BUCKHANNON – Members of the Upshur County community gathered together on the 18th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 at city hall Wednesday.
Several community members recalled where they were on 9/11 and honored the victims of the attack. Mayor David McCauley recalled how many people were affected by the attack.
“During the September 11 attacks of 2001, 2,996 people were killed, and more than 6,000 others injured,” McCauley said. “These immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes, 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. The attacks were the deadliest terrorist act in world history, and the most devastating foreign attack on U.S. soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.”
McCauley said it’s important to remember who was lost that day and educate future generations about 9/11.
“This morning, we must remember all of those who were murdered on 9/11, and who we lost in combat after 9/11, while being reminded to be ever vigilant and to appreciate that terrorism lurks all about us, always ready to strike, to rob us of our sense of being safe and secure,” McCauley said. “We must commit ourselves to educating our youth about the threats that good people face.”
McCauley also thanked Buckhannon’s first responders for everything they do.
“We thank our Buckhannon-Upshur first responders who work every day to help keep us all safe, but we’re also reminded that we all must be cognizant of the threats to our way of life, and not to shrink from our responsibilities to share information with our authorities about any perceived threats whether foreign or domestic,” McCauley said. “Remember, often our worst threats emanate from inside our nation and society.”
Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B. Kimble recalled where he was Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’re here to remember and like most people from my generation, I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit,” Kimble said. “I was at work at the firehouse with Buddy Ray Zickefoose, and if you don’t know Buddy Ray, he is a pretty calm and collected gentleman. I was working upstairs when I heard Buddy Ray say, ‘I don’t know why but a plane just hit a building,’ and I thought ‘is that here? I went down and as soon as I saw it, I knew what had happened and then the second plane hit.”
Kimble said he wasn’t at Wednesday’s commemoration to talk about his own service, but to remember the people who didn’t go home that day.
“I’m here today to remember the 3,000 people that went to work that day, and didn’t go home,” Kimble said. “That’s the biggest thing. I’m not here to tote my first responding – we train, we prepare for everything that we can. But … it’s hard to train and prepare for something like that. Three thousand people lost their lives that day, and they left their families that morning and went to work and didn’t make it home and that included 343 firefighters that some of us knew, and there are over 100 more that have died from cancer from the air they took in when they tried to rescue their brothers.”
The chair of the city’s Veterans Affairs Council and councilwoman Mary Albaugh said she was at West Virginia Wesleyan College at the time of the attack.
“I was working at Wesleyan College as housing coordinator, and I was in our building on campus and all of a sudden, girls started screaming, screaming and running down the hall,” Albaugh said. “Some of the girls’ parents lived in that area or close to it and one of girls’ fathers worked in the Pentagon.”
Upshur County Commission President Sam Nolte said the one thing that has stuck with him is seeing the first responders entering the buildings – and knowing many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“As Mary and J.B. were saying, I think we can all remember where we were and what we were doing at that particular time when we found out what was going on,” Nolte said. “The one thing that struck me more than anything was after the second plane had hit and they were trying to get people out of the building, everyone was pouring out of the building, but you know who was running back in the building? That was the first responders.”
“The first responders knew what the threat was probably more than anybody,” Nolte added. “They knew the destruction and that it probably wasn’t safe. They were going back into a situation they knew they might not come back out of and sadly, many of them did not.”