Remembering the Faces of Good – 9/11 Memorial in Windham

September 18, 2015

Staff photo by Len Lathrop  9/11 remembrance ceremony at Windham Fire Department

Staff photo by Len Lathrop 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Windham Fire Department


by Len Lathrop

Fourteen years later, Windham Fire Department hosted a 9/11 Memorial Service.  It is 8:30 Friday morning, 9/11/2015, it is raining, the memorial has been moved to inside the fire station, it is very quiet, people are talking in soft tones, a stage is set for speakers backed by very appropriate buntings.  The duty apparatus is parked in the lower driveway just in case they are needed.  Parked alone on the station’s apron is the Memorial Ladder truck; decals had been added to the 1981 Spartan ladder to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in 9/11 and honor the work of those who survived.

Welcomed by Deputy Fire Chief William Martineau, the fire and police personnel paraded into the apparatus bay and formed a blue line in front of an engine; the procession was led by bagpiper Chris Spitalere.  Once all were assembled, the Fireman’s Prayer and the Patrolman’s Prayer were read.  Chief Thomas McPherson offered a remembrance of the day and the action of those at the 9/11 site and how our nation came together to recover from these acts of terrorism.

555 was sounded on the memorial bell outside the station by Lt. James Brown as Lt. William Brown lowered the flag to half staff.

Firefighter Pat Robinson read the poem “The 343” written by William Mackle, FDNY retired.

Selectman Al Letizio addressed those in attendance; an excerpt from his address follows:

“Today I had the distinct honor of standing with Windham, New Hampshire’s, finest on this day of national reflection as we remember the events 9/11/2001.

Evil exists in our world.  September 11 is a day that we reflect back and remember that all too well.  But it is also a day when we remember that good exists in our world as well and that as Americans we can expect that good will ultimately prevail over evil every time.  Evil struck on an otherwise beautiful late summer morning on September 11th 2001 in the form of cowardly surprise attacks carried out Radical Islamic Jihadists on innocent people at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and on Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Two thousand nine-hundred and ninety-six lives were lost.

Today let’s also remember all of those who put on the uniform of the United States, volunteering to serve us in every capacity of military duty, here and abroad, standing the line for us, including brave young American military warriors, like First Sgt. Andrew McKenna and Master Sgt. George Vera, two of the absolute best of the best of American patriots, elite members of the United States Army 7th Special Forces Group, who we know as the Green Berets.  They heard the initial blast of a cowardly terrorist attack on their base, Camp Integrity in Kabul, Afghanistan, late on the night of August seventh, just a few weeks ago.  They answered the call of duty and ran willingly and bravely head on toward the face of evil, in defense of their base and to protect the lives of several hundred who were there, many sleeping.  These two heroes extinguished that evil that night, saving hundreds of lives, but Master SSgt George Vera was very seriously injured and clings to life still today while young First Sergeant Andrew McKenna paid the ultimate price, giving his life in defense of freedom, both of them leading from the front, facing down evil willingly and stopping it in its tracks.  This is the face of good.

On my lapel today is a badge that I wear proudly and with emotion, a Special Forces emblem given to me by a very special Green Beret from his uniform.  It is a symbol of good and reminds me every day of great American patriots like George and Andrew and their tremendous sacrifices given so willingly in the protection of our freedom and way of life.

Let us all remember first how the best among us step up, embody what is good and right, just like they did on September 11th, just like they did at Camp Integrity on that night in August and just like our local heroes continue to do today and every day.  Look around you now at those in uniform who are among us today.  Take a look at what good looks like up close.  Take a look at what real heroes look like.

We stand here together today as Windham residents and as citizens of the greatest nation on earth, the world’s only beacon of hope for global peace and for all that is right in humanity.  Today let’s not spend time remembering just that cowardly strike of evil, but let’s remember and be thankful for the best within our country and within our people.  The good embodied by true American heroes among us and those who have given their lives in that worthy endeavor.  Those who choose to lead from the front.  Today let us all reflect upon and appreciate the good who with the grace of God deliver us today and every day from evil.”