UNIONTOWN – “How could 20 years have passed so quickly?”
The words of Pastor Gary Gibson at a solemn ceremony outside Washington Mall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were undoubtedly said by many people Saturday as Americans in this area and around the country took time out from their usual weekend routines to remember the horror and tragedy of that day.
At the annual ceremony held by a 9/11 memorial at the edge of the mall’s parking lot, Gibson, who is chaplain for Washington Health System, urged the country to overcome its divisions and unify and choose “positivity over negativity.”
The ceremony started at 8:45 a.m., at almost exactly the same time the first plane hit the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It coincided with scores of other observances, including ceremonies in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville that were attended by President Joe Biden along with former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
At a ceremony in downtown Uniontown Saturday afternoon, city and Fayette County officials recalled where they were on that day and how first responders from the county assisted at the Shanksville crash site in adjacent Somerset County.
“We stand here 20 years later, with a commitment, that we never forget the victims or heroes that we lost on that morning,” said Jason Cox, Uniontown’s police chief. “Many of us have certain aspects of that day that are seared in our memory. It was the first time I ever recall there was not a cloud in the sky or a jet stream.”
Scott Dunn, a Fayette County commissioner, said, “I recall the emotions I had, the sadness and the anger.” He also said that on the day after 9/11, “It didn’t matter if you were a Republican or a Democrat. It didn’t matter what race you are or what gender you are.”
A choir from the Spring Valley Bruderhof community in Farmington sang “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful” at the ceremony, and a 20th anniversary plaque and art installation were also dedicated.