Monument Commemorates September 11 Victims


The crowd listens as Nick Dailey sings "I Pledge My Allegiance" during the
Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District's Patriot Day Ceremony,
Sept 11, 2016, at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington.


HUNTINGTON -- As first responders, veterans, city officials and community members bowed their heads in a moment of silence,
 the World Trade Center Steel Artifact Memorial was unveiled to the public for the first time
Sunday at Spring Hill Cemetery as part of the Patriot Day ceremonies.

The monument consists of two steel rails, roughly 20 feet long, that were pulled from the World Trade Center rubble.
 Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District, said the sculpture will
be the first part of a memorial at the cemetery honoring those who lost their lives 15 years ago Sunday.

The two pieces of steel used in the sculpture were transported to Huntington via a Patriotic Guard convoy in May.

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Many local people and organizations contributed to the artifacts' arrival in Huntington,
 but none more instrumental than Tom Bowen, Brady said.

Bowen, of Huntington, volunteered with FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue and the
NYC Office of Emergency Management at Ground Zero in the months following the attack.

"So many people worked hard so that we would have a permanent memorial right here in Huntington, West Virginia,
 so that we would never forget, and we have the stories to share with our children and their children," Bowen said.

Bowen shared one such story that took place in the weeks following Sept. 11 as crews searched through the rubble in New York City.

Bowen said he was working with one rescue team at the north tower when they came across a man with a wallet,
 identifying him as Matthew Picerno and including a picture of his wife and three kids.

"Our team was shaken by this," he said. "In that moment, we realized that this man was just like one of us - on his way to work
 to provide for his family, and he just so happened to be caught in the crosshairs of a terrible terrorist attack and killed."

About nine months later, Bowen and his family met the wife and children of Matthew Picerno, forming a unshakable bond.
 In the years that followed, the Picerno family would find a way to show their gratitude to Bowen by providing a vacation
 to Disney World after finding out that one of Bowen's sons was facing terminal brain cancer.

"What I learned from that is that even in tragedy, there is always an opportunity for greatness," Bowen said.

New Jersey resident Anthony Picerno, son of Matthew Picerno, attended Sunday's Patriot Day ceremony.

"When I attend events like these, it's a really great reminder that it is not just my tragedy," Anthony Picerno said.
"I am reminded that it didn't just happen to me - I am part of something that happened to all of us."

Picerno said the bond he now shares with the man that brought his father home is one that words alone can't do justice.

"With me and Tom, it's like our minds know where the other one is going to be,
" Picerno said. "In the simplest of terms, we get each other."

Sharing in the day of remembrance after losing their son 15 years ago were Ken and Sharon Ambrose.
Dr. Paul Ambrose died at age 32 aboard Flight 77 when it struck the Pentagon during the attacks.

Ken Ambrose said his son would have been 47 years old.

"It's hard to imagine him as a middle-aged man with all of his energy and all of his spunk that he had," Ken Ambrose said.

He said his son also had a great love for Huntington, Marshall and everyone in the community. To honor the legacy of
Paul Ambrose and his dedication to family health and preventative medicine to fight obesity, the city created the
 Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, which now runs through Spring Hill Cemetery,
 past the Healing Field and now past the 9/11 monument.

"What Huntington and the park commission are doing, having a living memorial as far as the PATH
and Healing Field, you will not realize how much that means to us to see that you have not forgotten
and will continue to honor all those who fell that day and afterwards," Ambrose said.

The ceremony also honored the hundreds of emergency workers who sacrificed their lives while attempting to save others.

"The collateral damage is immeasurable, yet we do and will continue to stand strong and proud against any and
all enemies that we are met with," said Jan Rader, deputy Huntington fire chief. "At all costs, we protect life and property,
 we serve our communities and country proudly, we help those who are suffering and in need we are first responders."

For the paramedics, firefighters, police officers and other first responders sprinkled throughout the crowd at
 Spring Hill Cemetery, many could relate to the act of running into a disaster instead of away.

"How many of you would go into a burning building or run toward shots being fired instead of the other way?"
asked Fred Buchanan, post adjutant at American Legion Huntington Post 16 and a former officer with the
 Cabell County Sheriff's Department. "I dare say the vast majority would seek cover, but not our first responders.
 They go into danger eyes wide open knowing what the risks and dangers are,
 and they are more than willing to lay down their life for you."

The ceremony also served as a day to remember the 75 victims of the 1970 Marshall plane crash.
Students from Marshall University, who were in elementary school when the Sept. 11, 2001,
 attacks happened, carried 75 flags and placed them in the Healing Field,
adding to the thousands of flags already in place.

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Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Sep. 12, 2016

Article by Josephine Mendez


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