‘I lost four friends that day’

Published 6:22 pm Sunday, September 11, 2011

As the sun shone down over Riverfront Park Sunday afternoon, many were seated at benches or on the grass, others walked the trail that runs along the banks of the St. Joseph river.

Niles City Fire Department Chief Larry Lamb read off names of the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks at Riverfront Park Sunday afternoon.

As they did, the soft sound of a guitar, played by Kevin Blair, could be heard through speakers positioned at the amphitheater along with the names of those victims of the terrorist attacks in Manhattan, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Penn.

“We thought we would do something that was just a little bit different than what we’d done in the past,” said Tom Majerek, who helped organize the reading.

Volunteers were welcome to come down to the park to help read off the names of the victims as music played in the background. Majerek said musician Jim Wheetley would also perform during the reading, playing a Native American flute.

As the reading began, some where seen taking seats in the grass under canopies set up just in front of the amphitheater. Others brought lawn chairs.

For Deb Wozniak, who was helping with the reading Sunday afternoon, marking the events of that historic and tragic day are of special importance. At the time, she said, she was working for Merrill Lynch in Elkhart.

“I lost four friends that day,” she said.

Those friends, she said, had been at a coffee shop not far from the World Trade Center when they saw a plane crash into the building. Instead of running away, Wozniak said, they went into the tower that housed their offices.

“They went in to help,” she said.

But they did not survive.

“9-11 touched everybody in this nation,” Wozniak said.

Remembering what happened that day is important she said not just for those who lived it but “for our children” who she hopes will never have to live through another day like it.