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Hundreds Turn Out For 9/11 Event at Ohio County Airport

WHEELING — Under near perfect weather Saturday, hundreds of people turned out for the “9/11 We will Never Forget” commemoration event at the Ohio County Airport in conjunction with the airport’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

Sponsored by the Ohio County Commission, events were held throughout the day as part of the “Honoring Heroes: Flying Into The Future” Ohio County Airport event.

In addition to a solemn commemoration ceremony, organized by the American Legion Post #1, Wheeling and the Ohio County Commission, other activities were held throughout the day for the entire family.

The 9/11 remembrance ceremony began with a greeting from Master of Ceremonies and Past American Legion Dept. Commander John Powell, followed by the presentation of colors by Wheeling Post #1. The invocation was delivered by Thomas Rentfrow (with Post #1) followed by the National Anthem by the West Liberty University Choir and Greg McCroskey (Post #1) leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Guest speaker, West Virginia Senator Ryan Weld, an attorney and a captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves who served as an intelligence officer during deployments to Afghanistan in the late 2000s, spoke about “the feelings of closeness and vulnerability” that all Americans experienced in the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11.

“During this time it was our collective tragedy that brought us together,” Weld explained. “In 2001 in the days and weeks after the 11th, American’s banded together and did all they could to help the cities that were attacked, the people who were injured that day, and the families who lost someone that they cared for,” said Weld. “Blood drives were held. People from all across the country raced to New York to be a part of the rescue and clean-up efforts of the World Trade Center site. … In the aftermath, It was out of the collective spirit of volunteerism that brought us together as a nation,” he added.

Weld went on to speak about the thousands of military veterans of Afghanistan who recently put into place a grass roots level operation to help those who once helped us escape the Taliban, and how they came together with that same collective spirit that occurred with the nation following 9/11. Weld went on to speak about the heroic story of Todd Beamer, who was aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked and crashed as part of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Beamer was one of the passengers who attempted to take back control of the aircraft from the hijackers.

“On Sept. 11, Todd Beamer completed his time here on earth. … He did not die as a cold and timid soul. He spent himself in a worthy cause. And I believe that is the lesson of not only 9/11 but the last 20 years as well — the lesson of our strength as Americans, the fact that we will always rise to the occasion in what we can accomplish together,” Weld explained. “May God Bless those who were lost 20 years ago and may God continue to Bless the United States of America,” he added.

Other ceremony participants included: H. Keith Brown, commander of American Legion Post #1 provided a welcome statement and led the POW MIA Table ceremony, with Michelle Powell, with American Legion Auxiliary leading the Military Child’s Table ceremony. Additional remarks were provided by Brown, Ohio County Emergency Management Agency Director Lou Vargo and Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard. Mary Jo Guidi delivered a message from Senator Joe Manchin. Betsy McFarland performed Amazing Grace with the bagpipes and the West Liberty University Choir also performed the American Anthem and America the Beautiful. Rentfrow presented the benediction.

In addition to music, a rock climbing wall, and other activities, members of the Hilltoppers Flying Club staged a flight show with their radio-controlled planes. The Company C, 1st Battalion, 150th Aviation Regiment of the Army National Guard, based at the airport also provided tours of heavy military equipment.

Powell, who worked at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on 9/11, said it was a “very somber” day for him. He said a lot veterans and first responders over the last 20 years have dedicated their lives to fighting terrorism and it is vital to pay respect on this 20th anniversary of 9/11. Powell said he was thankful to the Ohio County Commision for organizing the event.

“I think it is a great success and I thank them for what they’ve done to pay tribute to the veterans and the first responders,” Powell commented.

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