Fenton Area Remembers 9/11 with Memorial Service at Fire Department
Residents have the opportunity to see, touch steel artifact from the World Trade Center.
Fenton residents Kristin and Matt Plew brought their 6-month-old son, James, to the city's Sept. 11 memorial service. They wanted to be with other people on the 10th anniversary of the tragic day when thousands of Americans lost their lives in terrorist attacks.
"I wanted to actively observe the day rather than just watch TV," Kristin Plew said.
Looking back, she was attending a training class, in Utica, for a new job on that fateful morning 10 years ago.
"We wore pagers," she said. "The news came across the pager."
Someone in the class saw the news and told everyone else. Plew didn't know the others yet, which made the experience more difficult, she said.
"I just remember being in disbelief," Plew said. "I didn't understand. I didn't have any scope of what was happening."
Her husband, Matt Plew, also was at work. "We were listening on the radio," he said.
He, too, felt a sense of disbelief.
The Fenton Fire Department hosted the memorial service the Plews, and around 200 others, attended on Sunday. It began at 9:59 a.m. — when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in New York City 10 years ago. In addition, the service included a moment of silence, placing a memorial wreath and speakers.
The piece of steel the Fenton Fire Department obtained from the wreckage of the World Trade Center was on display. Somer Baird, an eighth-grader at AGS Middle School in Fenton, was one of those to snap some photographs of the rusted artifact.
"The ceremony was nice, and the artifact is a piece of history," Somer said. "It's part of one of the great tragedies that happened."
Standing nearby, Deputy Chief Ed Hadfield of the Fenton Fire Department said on 9/11 he worried about his cousin, who worked on the 102nd floor of one of the World Trade Center buildings. Hadfield wondered if his cousin was at work that day.
"He perished in the collapse," he said.
Dave and Debbie Kuiawa of Tyrone Township also attended Fenton's memorial service on Sunday.
"It's the right thing to do," Dave Kuiawa said. "We lost a lot of people in 9-11.
"This is something local, if we can attend it to show our respects."
On 9-11, Kuiawa said he was at work. After hearing about the terrorist attacks, he thought there would be more to come. General Motors closed down the plant where he worked, sending employees home to be with their families in case of another attack.
His wife, Debbie Kuiawa, was at a training session for work.
"The class came to a halt," she said.
Participants waited to see what would happen next, afraid there would be more.
Two members of the area clergy offered words of comfort and prayer at Sunday's memorial service. The Rev. Bill Donahue, of Fenton United Methodist Church, led the audience in prayer for those who lost parents, friends and others that day.
Afterward, Donahue said members of his congregation walked from their church to the memorial service.
"We brought our congregation here after our 9:30 a.m. service," he said. "We had a chance to celebrate with the community and show our support and show that people of faith will not forget.
"But we hope to do more than remember."
They want to make a difference and encourage love and acceptance of all people through Christ, he said.
Pastor Dale C. Swihart, Jr. of First Presbyterian Church of Fenton also addressed the audience. Many remember their fear, anger and lost sense of security, peace and innocence, he said. People risked their lives to save others, and the tragic day led to a deepening sense of community.
Swihart prayed that children, and their children's children, will not know or inflict the type of terror people felt Sept. 11, 2001.
Mayor Sue Osborn remembered holding her 4-month-old granddaughter, rocking and feeding her a bottle when she learned of the terrorist attacks. Osborn asked herself what kind of world the little girl would grow up in.
None of her friends or family died in the terrorist attacks, for which she is very fortunate and grateful, Osborn said. Her oldest son wanted to help people and changed his career path as a result of the tragedy. Now he's a firefighter for the city of Flint.
Osborn felt shock, fear and anger after the terrorist attacks. But people rallied, came together as a community and helped their neighbors.
"We could use more of that instead of the divisiveness and hostility that seems to permeate so many of our actions," she said.
As a result of the terrorist attacks, local governments, including Fenton, have different training for the police and firefighters so they will be prepared in case of a similar tragedy. In addition, police and firefighting equipment, even the radio system, is different.
"Our public safety departments are the best," Osborn said. "Any one of these local heroes would put their lives on the line to protect our citizens."
She mentioned the tornado that struck Fenton and Holly in August 2001. The police officers and firefighters who responded in the aftermath of it are still here, Osborn said. And people will never forget those in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania who lost their lives to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"This changed our world in so many ways," she said.
Later, she said Fenton's 9/11 memorial service was outstanding. In addition, it was very nice of local church members to walk to the fire station and participate in the service.
"We had a great crowd here," she said.
Young people from Boy Scout Troop 212, which meets at Fenton United Methodist Church, led the congregation from the United Methodist church to the service. They are sponsored by the church and the Fenton Lions Club, said Ronald West, a member of the community.