A patriotic service honoring the heroes of 9/11 was led by members of American Legion Post 55 of Hannibal Wednesday morning at the American Legion hall.
“Today we celebrate the survivors, the heroes of September 2001,” said American Legion Commander Ronn Pashia. “Those family members that struggled on, those gallant coworkers that continue to face adversity and death daily, and this nation as a whole, that pulls together and hopefully prays for God’s blessing and protection, not only for our nation, but the world.”
Before introducing the people participating in the service, Pashia led the singing of the National Anthem, after commenting he liked to have everyone sing it, not just one person.
Mayor Roy Hark shared his memories of Sept. 11, 2001, reporting he was out of town at a conference, and when he saw the plane hit one of the towers he at first believed he was watching a movie. When he realized it was real, “I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach,” he said.
“Having served 32 years with the fire department and as chief for nine years, when I saw firefighters going in, I knew very well” some would not be coming back out.
Of the 3,000 who lost their lives on 9/11, Hark said, “over 400 were police officers and firemen. ... I thank God for all who try to protect our country. Keep everyone in your prayers, and God bless America.”
Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd said the American dream is still alive, with people “free to assemble, free to speak, able to freely bear arms, vote and travel.
“The American dream and freedoms are very much alive today,” Shepherd said. She honored firefighters, veterans and active service members, concluding “America is still a soaring eagle.”
Several prayers were led by the Rev. Allen Clark, who serves as chaplain at Hannibal Regional Hospital.
Also introduced at the service were the Rev. Kevin Coates, a member of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, and Hannibal Fire Chief Bill Madore. Perhaps the youngest child present was Adrian Madore, 1-year-old son of Jennifer and Bill Madore.
In addition to flying an American flag at half staff from a high ladder on a fire truck, the Hannibal Fire Department brought its bell and led a bell ceremony to honor the 9/11 victims.
Earlier, as they carried the bell and its table into the Legion hall, HFD engineer Jeff Moore and firefighter Russell Schindler said the bell ceremony is performed to honor fallen firefighters.
HFD member Shane Jaeger, who rang the ceremonial bell during the service, later explained the bell ringing is a very old firefighter tradition, “going back to the horse and wagon” days. They rang the bell going to a call and when they came back, he said. It was their signal in the all-volunteer days of the 1800s.
Page 2 of 2 - The five rings, done three times, “signifies everyone has come home,” Jaeger said. Now the bell ceremony is performed at funerals of firefighters, signifying their final call (as it was at the 9/11 Memorial Service).
Additional Hannibal firefighters attending included Deputy Chief Mike Benjamin, training officer John Baker, Capt. Mark Van Winkle and retired Assistant Chief Don Benjamin.
After a ceremonial firing squad by Legion members Jess Ornelas, Bill Hesner and Lyle Todd, the service concluded with the playing of Taps on a valveless bugle by Legionnaire Harry Graves.
For more pictures of the service, see photo gallery on hannibal.net.