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Never forgetting 9/11

Brendan Roberts plays Taps.
Eva Parisi, ministries coordinator at St. James, lights a candle.
A “Never Forget” train at the Protestant Home.
Participants in the Protestant Home remembrance.
Rep. Joe Hohenstein, Chanta’l Hardy and Pastor Paul Andell.
Arlene Weldon, Eva Parisi, Vince Weldon.
Audrey Alston sings God Bless America.
Police officer Stephanie Velazquez, of the community relations unit, sings the Star-Spangled Banner.

St. James Lutheran Church and the Philadelphia Protestant Home will never forget.

St. James, 5185 Castor Ave., and the Protestant Home, 6401 Martins Mill Road, on Monday, hosted their annual commemorations of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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St. James held a Service of Remembrance that featured a welcome from Pastor Paul Andell and the singing of the national anthem, America the Beautiful and America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee), with Vince Weldon and Arlene Weldon providing the music.

“We gather to remember, lest we forget,” Andell said.

The Rev. Lawrence Shuford, pastor of Second Baptist Church, and the Rev. Larry King, of the same church, offered prayer and reflection.

King lost six close friends who were fellow military members. He condemned the “cowardly act” of the 19 terrorists who hijacked four commercial airliners that led to the deaths of about 3,000 Americans that day, adding that many more were killed or seriously injured in the resulting Global War on Terror and many first responders developed cancer and other severe illnesses after trying to save people in the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Chanta’l Hardy performed a Dance of Hope, while Eva Parisi lit a candle during a time of silence.

Darrion Shuford Sr., chief of staff to state Rep. Jason Dawkins, presented a citation to St. James for holding the annual service.

Rep. Joe Hohenstein was among those in attendance.

Among those who attended the Protestant Home event were City Councilman Anthony Phillips; Rep. Anthony Bellmon; Capt. Marc Metellus, community relations officer Mark Mroz and victims assistance officer Danielle Walsh, of the 2nd Police District; firefighters from Engine 64; and representatives of Burholme EMS.

Bill Conaway, PPH’s director of community relations, emceed and organized the event. John Dubyk, the president and CEO, was on hand. Kristopher Halsey, a police chaplain and PPH board member, offered the invocation and benediction.

Police officer Stephanie Velazquez led the crowd in the national anthem, while PPH resident Audrey Alston sang God Bless America.

Mroz recalled working at the time of the terrorist attacks. He was 33 and father of a 9-month-old girl. Every Sept. 11, he wears a police/9-11/American flag given to him and other first responders by a man in the aftermath of the attacks.

Bellmon remembered being 11 and being dismissed from school early that day, with the sight of more American flags flying after the attack.

The Northeast lost two people on 9/11, and they have not been forgotten.

Peter Ortale grew up on the 4900 block of Castor Ave., not far from St. James. He attended St. Martin of Tours, Penn Charter and Duke University, where he graduated in 1987 and was a three-year All-American lacrosse player. At the time of his death, at age 37, he was working for Euro Brokers on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower in New York. He was among 61 employees and friends of Euro Brokers who died that day. The 18th annual Run for Peace will take place on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8:45 a.m. at Penn Charter, 3000 W. School House Lane in East Falls. The event is in memory of Ortale (Penn Charter class of 1983) and Kenny Caldwell (class of ‘89), who also died in the attacks. The cost is $25 and includes a T-shirt. Proceeds benefit scholarship funds in memory of Ortale and Caldwell. For more information or to register, visit https://www.penncharter.com/alumni/runforpeace.

Alisha Levin grew up on the 1300 block of Wells St. in Castor Gardens. She was 33 and a 1986 graduate of Northeast who later graduated from Hofstra University. She worked for three years for Fuji Bank in the World Trade Center’s South Tower. On the day of the attacks, terrorists first crashed an airplane into the North Tower. Seventeen minutes later, a plane struck the South Tower. Fuji Bank, which occupied the 79th through 82nd floors, lost 23 employees. Levin was the company’s vice president of human resources. The annual Alisha C. Levin Run to Remember will take place on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. at Northeast High School, 1601 Cottman Ave. Proceeds will benefit scholarships and programs at Northeast and Hofstra. For more information, visit alishalevinmemorial.org. ••

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