American Legion hosts 9/11 memorial in Riverfront Park

NILES — Friday morning arrived in an autumn fashion of cloudy, grey and cold. It was in this somber setting at 9 a.m. that a small gathering took place at the War Memorial in Riverfront Park, with the flags flying at half-staff.

The 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, brought together Odie Stewart and Bob Ahrens of the American Legion Post 26 to lead a short ceremony of remembrance.

Odie Stewart, of Niles, and commander of American Legion Post 26, began with a moment of silence.

“It’s not a beautiful day like it was 19 years ago,” Stewart said.

Ahrens played “Taps,” and then proceeded to read the timeline of what happened that day in 2001 as the World Trade Center towers were attacked in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a final, fourth plane was crashed in Pennsylvania as passengers overtook the terrorists attempting to pilot the aircraft.

“This short commemoration of the huge, tragic loss of 2,996 total deaths on this day 19 years ago. 2,977 victims, plus 19 terrorists who died,” Ahrens said.

Ahrens then went through the events that happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

At 8:46 a.m., the North Tower was attacked first, as American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building. At 9:03 a.m., the South Tower was attacked in a similar fashion by a terrorist who had hijacked United Airlines Flight 175. At 9:37 a.m., hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon building. At 9:42 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights, for the first time in U.S. history.  Finally, at 10:03 a.m., the fourth plane, Flight 93, crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, as the passengers and flight crew overtook the terrorists hijacking the plane.

Ahrens and Stewart hosted a pause after reading the events of the morning, a moment of silence for citizens lost in the attacks.

“It’s been such a long time now, but we are still hearing atrocities that are happening because of the stress,” Stewart said.

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