Story and photos by Mike Weland
There are, fortunately, few moments that befall a nation that affects each and every city and town and hamlet within its borders, days that those there will never forget. One such took place 19 years ago today, transforming all who experienced it.
Today, Bonners Ferry’s city parking lot was filled with people, not all who experienced the events of that awful day as they weren’t yet born, yet all indelibly touched by the events remembered; four aircraft, flown with malice intent against our nation, suicide bombs of epic proportion that took down in succession towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., a fourth aircraft, thanks to cell phones, taken from the sky deliberately by its passengers, who, having learned of the other flights, sacrificed themselves.
It was a solemn affair, filled with detail of the bravery and heroism of that fateful day, of how those on Flight 93 said goodbye and stormed the cabin, bringing the aircraft down in the Pennsylvania countryside, sparing others. Of the first responders running to the danger of greatly weakened buildings, soaked in fuel and fire, to lead many to safety and go back for more, only to lay down their lives as the towers collapsed.
The Boundary County Fire Rescue Honor Guard stepped crisply to staccato march orders to post the colors following a call to attention by North Bench Fire Chief Gus Jackson.
Chaplain Paula DesBiens led the Pledge of Allegiance, Pastor Len Pine sang the National Anthem. And then the remembering, Alan Hamilton of the BCFR Honor Guard tolling the bell on Ladder One to commemorate the times each aircraft crashed, all ending the lives of all aboard, including the enemies of our nation who hijacked them, all but one ending the lives of hundreds just starting their day.
There were 2,977 who died in the acts of war perpetrated that morning, but the death toll continued long after September 11, 2001, with more than 5,000 estimated to have died as a direct result of the attacks of that morning.
Chaplain Pastor Len Pine brought the events of that day to life, evoking emotions not felt by many since the day 19 years ago. Chaplains Dave Lotze and Lewis Clark further painted images and Sheriff Dave Kramer remembered those lost with 50 seconds of silence, broken only by cars on the bypass and the honking of geese overhead flying south, one second for every 100 innocent victims of that day’s travesties.
As the remembrance drew to a close, the strains of former Bonners Ferry Fire Chief Pat Warkentin’s pipes filled the air with Amazing Grace, washing over the solemn souls there to remember. There to honor.