Residents remember 9/11

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South Whidbey residents remembered the events and honored the victims of Sept. 11, 2001 in different ways Wednesday.

Many headed to churches to attend special services; others awoke before dawn to have a time of reflection at Langley Park, and later came back to the park for music and prayers. Still others chose to recall the horrific events of that day in private.

The day of remembrance on South Whidbey started in Langley. At 5:45 a.m. Pacific time, the time of the first plane crash at New York's World Trade Center on 9/11, about 10 people gathered in Langley Park to spend a largely silent half hour reflecting by candlelight.

At noon, one of the participants in the early morning event was back at the park for a city-sponsored ceremony. Cherri Ann Forrest said she and other locals who lit candles in the park that morning planned to keep them lit all day. A member of the group "Geo-Celebrate," Forrest said she and others needed to take a day out to remember what happened last year.

"We don't need planes crashing into buildings to remind us to do what is right," she said.

Greenbank resident Robin Meehan came to the ceremony with her family. Though it was a year after the terrorist attacks on the East Coast, she said she had still worried about a trip her daughter took on a ferry earlier in the day. The pain and fear of that day, she said, is hard to forget.

"It's amazing how it is still touching," she said.

At South Whidbey High School, students -- many of whom had watched the 9/11 attacks unfold on classroom televisions last year -- heard speeches from Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley and Fire District 3 Chief Don Smith. Usually boisterous at school assemblies such as this, the 700-plus students at the school filed into the gym quietly and left the same way.

Hawley urged students to dedicate their lives to some sort public service.

"Plan your life with a pencil, our lives have been altered with a number of terrible events throughout history," he said. "It is a good thing to remember those brave victims who died on Sept. 11."

English teacher Steve Durbin, a sergeant in the Army Reserves read an excerpt from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to mark the day.

"We must never forget," he said to close his speech.

Fire Chief Don Smith honored the fire fighters and police who gave their lives in New York City one year earlier.

"Not one of those emergency workers intended to die that day," Smith said. "Most do it as volunteers, like they do in this community. They are here to protect your way of life, and in the end they are all your family."

Among the most moving portions of the program was an original song, "Heroes and Angels" written and sung by junior Colleen Johnson. The chorus of her song said it all.

"We made heroes and angles from ashes and scars
We made a nation from a million broken hearts
Though buildings may crumble the soul still remains
We will make heroes and angels from wreckage and pain."

Record editor Matt Johnson contributed to this story.

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