(Shenandoah) -- Inclement weather and last minute changes didn't stop Shenandoah from observing a solemn day in history.
The traditional sounding of the four-fives by Shenandoah Fire Department cadets was just one part of the city's annual Patriot's Day ceremony Wednesday afternoon. Local residents joined law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders in remembering those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Rain showers earlier in the day forced the relocation of the noontime event from Bogart Park to the Old Armory across the street.
Guest speakers were Ernie Robinson, senior vice commander of Shenandoah's VFW post, and Janet Olsen, Shenandoah American Legion commander. Olsen, who is also Page County's veteran affairs executive director, recalled how victims awoke on a beautiful day 18 years ago--one similar to Wednesday--not knowing of their fate.
"Most of us got up this morning, and didn't have a whole lot of things to worry about," said Olsen. "Me, personally, it was what flavor of Pop Tart am I going to eat. So, a gorgeous beautiful day. But, let me tell you something--the day that this happened on 9/11, there were 2,752 people just like us--American citizens--who had the same dilemma, whether they wanted blueberry and strawberry. They woke up, they took care of their families, and they went to work--and we lost them."
Olsen says America also lost its innocence that day, as well. She also asked those in attendance to recall their emotions on that historic day.
"On that day of 9/11 2001, I want to know, in your mind, think, where were you? What was going on? Do you remember that event? Well, I want to know how you felt. What did that do to you? How did you feel about what had happened that day? Terrified? Mad? Scared? I'd really like an honest show of hands as to how many people went home and started filling their pantries, because we didn't know if we were going to go to war.
"That day affected all of us. That day affected every family that sits here, and every family in the United States of America. It was a turning point. Remember that, and be careful about how we proceed," she added.
Olsen also paid tribute to the hundreds of law enforcement, fire and emergency personnel who lost their lives that day.
"I didn't know the people in that building," said Olsen. "I hurt for them. I didn't know them. But, I knew these guys were protecting my way of life. I know I'm safe if I walk up and ask for help. And, I know I can make a call, and something's going to happen. We live in America. I want you to look around, and I want you to walk up to them on the street, and tell them thanks. That's 418 lives you need to remember."
She also reminded attendees that the country is still united--one nation under God--and that won't change. Shenandoah High School's Marching Mustangs also participated in the ceremony. Shenandoah Mayor Dick Hunt and Ed Bonefas of Shenandoah's Elks Lodge #1122 presented a wreath in memory of the 9/11 victims.