9/11 memorial services in Milwaukee, Kewaskum bring community together
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - Saturday, Sept. 11 marked 20 years since 9/11, a day that changed this nation forever. Several memorial events across the state honored the lives lost that day.
The first event was at 8:30 a.m. at the Milwaukee War Memorial Center where Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley invited the public to attend a memorial ceremony in remembrance of 9/11.
"Today we honor the lives lost, survivors, family, friends, the first responders, and all those who dedicated their lives to serving us all since that tragic day. It is one of the worst days that we've ever seen as a country, but it brought the best in all of us as we came together at the time," said Crowley.
At the Milwaukee War Memorial Center, the community honored the 2,977 lives lost by laying wreaths on behalf of the military members, first responders, police officers, firefighters, and civilians lost that day.
The event started with the Honor Guard presenting the colors followed by a performance of the national anthem, pledge of allegiance, words from Crowley and Barrett, laying of the wreaths, rifle salute, and taps performed.
"We saw the unity of resolve, we saw the unity of service, and we saw the unity of resiliency. The result is we will never forget," said Barrett.
Mark Fox, who was a battalion chief for Milwaukee Fire Department at the time, went to New York two months after 9/11 to attend memorial services and support the New York firefighters. He heard their stories and said the scene was unreal two months after the attack.
"We spent some time up on the roof of the firehouse called FDNY 10 House right across the street from the World Trade Center. We went up onto the roof of that house for a couple of hours, overlooking the entire World Trade Center. This was two months later and there's just so much work going on. It's something you see in a war picture, and I remember the smell. It was a wet, rusty steel smell in this haze in this whole area," said Fox.
A medal of honor commemorative motorcycle ride from the memorial war center in Milwaukee to Kewaskum followed after the ceremony for Medal of Honor Recipient Gary Wetzel. There was also a memorial service on 9/11 outside of the new Kewaskum 9/11 Memorial.
"9/11 certainly changed my life forever, as well as my service in Iraq in 2003. The service was just a rallying cry for people to remember that day and to reflect on who we are as a nation now 20 years later," said Josh Schoemann, the Washington County Executive.
"We need to teach this new generation how we felt and what it was like at that time. I remember back then watching as (police, firefighters, first responders) all ran into the building. Then when the towers fell realizing that they would have all died in that event and how proud I was thinking that there's people in the world that would do that. Probably very influential on my decision to go into law enforcement," said Thomas Bishop, the chief of police for the Village of Kewaskum.
In Kewaskum at the memorial, thousands of small American flags honored the lives lost that day. In the center of the memorial is a steel beam from the north tower as a reminder of the strength we all built from that day.
"One of the individuals who was responsible for building this very memorial, his name is Gordon Haberman. His daughter was killed during the attacks, she is from Kewaskum. As a dad who lost a daughter in the attacks, he said everybody asked me about 911 and he said for me it's about 9/12. We remember the events that happened, the loved ones that we lost, but also we've got to live and go forward and heal," said Dan Buttery, the president and CEO of the Milwaukee War Memorial Center.
Community members also say the big takeaway from this day is continuing to honor all those lives that were lost, by sharing their stories, the sacrifices they made that day, and remembering how this unified our country in a significant way.