NE Philly remembers 9/11

Cheltenham Fire Company volunteer firefighter Kevin Morrissy raises the American flag.
The Rev. John Sweet (left) and Pastor Paul Andell light candles in memory of 9/11 terrorist attack victims.
Stephen Acosta and Amia Harris led the crowd in the singing of America the Beautiful and America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee).
Audrey Alston led the crowd in a rendition of America the Beautiful.

Former Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, now chief of the Upper Darby Fire Department
Councilwoman Cherelle Parker
The Rev. Thomas Higgins, pastor, Holy Innocents Catholic Church
State Rep. Joe Hohenstein
The Rev. Clarence Miller, pastor, Pinkett Tabernacle
Christian Creation Dancers
Father Kevin Thompson, Padre Pio Center

St. James Lutheran Church and the Philadelphia Protestant Home on Saturday held ceremonies to remember the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

St. James, at Castor Avenue and Pratt Street in Northwood, welcomed a color guard and a performance by the Christian Creation Dancers, and the crowd sang the Star-Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee).

Pastor Paul Andell offered opening remarks, and the Rev. Debbie Heffernan, pastor of Glading Memorial Presbyterian Church, read from Psalm 46.

Reflections were given by the Rev. Clarence Miller, on staff at St. James; state Rep. Joe Hohenstein; Father Kevin Thompson, of the Padro Pio Center; and the Rev. Thomas Higgins, pastor at Holy Innocents Catholic Church.

“What the world needs now is God’s love,” Miller said.

Hohenstein, describing himself as “extremely liberal,” nonetheless said that Americans had to give up some personal liberties after the attack so freedom could move forward.

“That sacrifice needed to be made,” he said.

The Rev. John Sweet, of Frankford Presbyterian Church, led the lighting of candles in memory of the roughly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks. The congregation sang, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

Meanwhile, at the Protestant Home, 6401 Martins Mill Road, emcee Bill Conaway was joined in the parking lot ceremony by residents and members of Engine 64, Burholme Emergency Medical Services and the Cheltenham Fire Company. Conaway introduced the first responders individually.

Pastor Ken Smith offered an invocation and benediction. Jim Walker, a veteran and PPH resident, played Taps on his bugle as the American flag was raised. Another veteran and PPH resident, Audrey Alston, led the crowd in renditions of America the Beautiful and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Remarks were delivered by PPH president John Dubyk; Derrick Sawyer, a former Philadelphia fire commissioner now the chief in Upper Darby; and City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker.

A representative from state Sen. Tina Tartaglione’s office attended, and Conaway asked all veterans to stand to be recognized.

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center killed 343 New York firefighters.

“You can’t have service without sacrifice,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer urged everyone who thanks first responders for their service to also thank them for their sacrifice.

Parker said it takes a special person to sacrifice for strangers.

“They bravely ran into those burning towers,” she said, adding that nobody should take the United States or patriotism for granted.

The ceremony was an emotional one for Conaway and others.

“When Americans lend a hand to one another, nothing is impossible,” he said, repeating a memorable quote from the aftermath of the attacks. “We are not about what happened on 9/11. We’re about what happened on 9/12.” ••