County’s September 11 Service will continue

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Since Warren County Memorial Park began hosting the Warren County September 11 Service in 2006, monuments including the emergency service memorial and the World Trade Center site, including a piece of steel from WTC, have been added. The cemetery will continue to host the service.

There was some doubt as to whether the annual Warren County September 11 Service had a future.

Organizers believe it may be the second largest such event in the state.

Support for the event is evident by the hundreds of people who attend each year.

“Our attendance is usually 300 to 400,” Ruth Seebeck of Warren County Memorial Park said. “We’ve had as many as 1,500.”

“They do come in from out of town because nobody’s doing anything,” she said.

But the organization needed more.

“It takes a lot of money,” Seebeck said. “It takes a lot of work.”

As time passes, fewer people remember.

“Attendance was down,” she said. “Support has been down.”

“It was very iffy,” she said. “We didn’t know if we were going to do it again.”

After a Friday morning meeting of the advisory board, the event will move forward revitalized.

“We’ve got some new ideas and some new people and some new blood,” Seebeck said. “September 11 is going to happen.”

“We’ve breathed new life into this,” she said. “We’ve got the support of the commissioners. We’ve got the veterans’ support.”

“The county and the Veterans Council have donated $500 (each) and are challenging other organizations to match that,” Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said.

Those looking for a 501(c)3 to make their contributions may send them to the Warren County Veterans Council with “September 11 project.”

Seebeck explained that writing out ‘September’ helps clear up any confusion with 911 emergency services.

“In order to keep honoring those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and to honor our military and first responders, we need your help,” according to a letter from the organizers to potential sponsors.

Individual donors are encouraged to sponsor memorial or honorary flags for as little as $5.

Donations of time and effort will be particularly needed on Saturday, Aug. 25 for setting up the field of flags, and for setting up and tearing down around Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The service honors local responders and veterans as well as the casualties of the terrorist attack. Donations for Support Our Troops are also accepted.

Veterans Council President Ed Burris said the keynote speaker for the event will be U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Ret. Eric Weller, deputy adjutant for Veterans Affairs in Pennsylvania.

Two of the people in attendance at Friday’s planning session were Bunky and Mary Froman.

“Bunky has been doing this since 2002,” Seebeck said. They ran the program for five years. “The cemetery partnered in 2006 — the fifth anniversary.”

Froman is still a fundraising force for the event. “Bunky walked in with $276 (in private donations) today, because he believes in what we’re doing,” Seebeck said.

Since the event moved to Warren County Memorial Park, there have been several physical upgrades. One of them features structural steel from the World Trade Center. Organizers credited Starbrick Volunteer Fire Department and Dave Zock for bringing the memorial steel to the park. “It took them three years to get that piece of steel,” Ed Seebeck said.

The events of September 11, 2001, “had a profound effect on the people who were watching TV that day,” Ruth Seebeck said. “Those of us who have veterans in their families… this really hit.”

Since then, “there have been attacks all over — England, France, Asia,” Seebeck said. “Our government and our military have done a great job of keeping it from happening again here.”

“Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,” Burris quoted.