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Oak Harbor won't forget Sept. 11

Rain did not deter sailors at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station nor residents of Oak Harbor from paying their respects to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

At the air base, some 200 folding chairs puddled with rain sat largely empty on the tarmac, while those attending stood for solemn early morning ceremonies and remarks by Captain Stephen Black and others.

Comments likened the heavy rain to “tears from heaven,” but the positive was emphasized in the base ceremony. “Our hearts haven’t changed, our spirits haven’t changed,” said Chaplain Mark Haley in the benediction.

Capt. Black quoted Abraham Lincoln. “Let us have faith that right makes might,” he said. Also, “It’s not an army that stops tyranny, it’s the love of freedom which God has planted in all of us.” He expressed the nation’s appreciation for all that the men and women in the military have done since that fateful September day in 2001.

About a hundred solemn-faced folks stood under umbrellas or braved the light rain during a half-hour ceremony in the waterfront Flintstone Park at noon. The audience was filled with many firefighters and police officers, the symbolic heroes of the tragedy. The fire department erected a giant flag pole with ladder trucks and hung an enormous American flag above the tent where the speakers stood.

The brief ceremony was filled with prayers led by the Rev. David Lura, as well as patriotic music from the An-O-Chords and the high school chamber choir.

Capt. Black, speaking for the second time that day, called the anniversary of the attacks “a poignant day.” His voice was filled with emotion when he talked about seeing children on TV endlessly reading the names of the victims.

City Councilman Danny Paggao read a proclamation signed by Mayor Patty Cohen, who was unable to attend the ceremony. He said the nation continues “to recover from the unspeakable loss of so many innocent lives, the indomitable spirit of the United States has been revitalized and given way to numerous expressions of heroism and patriotism.”

“Citizens of Island County and City of Oak Harbor and all Americans celebrate our nation’s resiliency and remember the sacrifices of our new found heroes,” Paggao said. “It is fitting to observe this somber, yet important, anniversary.”

Paggao said the city was forever resolved to “remember 9-11 day, a day to mourn, reflect and rededicate ourselves to ending terrorism in commemoration of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.”

After a final prayer, the people quietly walked away as the rain ended.

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