ELDERSVILLE, Pa. - As twilight fell Tuesday, more than 50 people gathered at the intersection of Fire and Cedar Grove roads and sang "Amazing Grace" by candlelight.
It was the 11th annual memorial held by Eldersville residents in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It is hosted by the Jefferson Township Historical Society and organized by resident Diane Huggins.
During each memorial, Huggins shares details about victims of the attacks. This year, Huggins spoke about FBI Special Agent Leonard Hatton and Stephen Fiorelli Sr., Port Authority of New York and New Jersey engineer.
CEREMONY HELD — Ray Kotouch and his son, Steven, raised and lowered the flag to half-staff prior to a memorial in Eldersville, Pa. honoring the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
Hatton was on his way to FBI Headquarters Lower Manhattan when the attacks occurred, and, three blocks away, he immediately went to the South Tower to assist law enforcement.
"He would not be seen again," said Huggins.
Hatton was a member of the Joint Bank Robbery Task Force and investigated approximately 800 bank robberies, kidnappings and extortion cases over his 15 years with the FBI. He was a forensic instructor at the International Law Enforcement Center and a bomb technician and forsenic expert who assisted in the investigation of the U.S.S. Cole and World Trade Center bombing of 1993.
"Three months before, he had testified in the case United States of America versus Osama Bin Laden," Huggins said. "He was the only member of the FBI killed in the attack."
Hatton was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and father to four children.
Fiorelli was a civil engineer with the Port Authority, and, as a fire safety expert, he was working to secure stairwells in the World Trade Center immediately after the attacks.
"He was last seen on the 22nd floor," Huggins said.
Fiorelli graduated from Rutgers University in 1980 and immediately went to work for the Port Authority, where he worked until his death. He loved children and left behind a son and a daughter. He also was an avid cyclist and sailor and was an accomplished cook, specializing in Italian dishes and grilling, said Huggins.
Fiorelli was an assistant leader with Boy Scout Troop 66 and a member of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church.
Huggins also spoke about Mark Macari, whose cousin, Firefighter Greg Saucedo of the New York Fire Department, was killed during the attacks. Macari became an advocate for victims of the attacks and presented a flag flown over the World Trade Center to Huggins for use during the memorials. He died in October following a battle with cancer.
"I told Mark we would fly it every year, and we will," said Huggins. "He knew I fully supported him and felt the same way about 9-11."
46th District Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil Township, spoke about the attack on the American ideal and how Americans came together in the immediate aftermath of the attack. He said the attack represented two things: how America and Americans are perceived.
"Being American is something different for everybody, but there is a core identity - call it the American spirit, the American ideal - that is there," he said. "We had a way of life that was a threat to people who didn't do things that way, and that was what was attacked. We all came together, and politics, religion, race and economic status didn't matter. It only mattered that we were all Americans united in that moment."
White said historical context would be gained with distance, but the lesson that can be taken away was it shouldn't take a tragedy to unite the country.
"We should strive for that ideal that put us on that pedestal, and remember how we reacted when we were knocked off of it," he said.
Those who attended were invited to bring donations of nonperishable goods for the Washington County Food Bank as a community project in honor of the victims, many of whom would give their lunches to homeless people in the neighborhood near the World Trade Center.
Food Bank Executive Director Lisa Nuccetelli spoke briefly about the 1,800 volunteers who give 37,000 hours annually to run the county's 38 pantries.
"We couldn't do what we do on a daily basis without our volunteers," she said.
The Rev. Thomas Derby of the Colliers Way Church of Christ gave the invocation, praying for forgiveness and peace.
"Our hearts go out to those who were victims of such a terrible tragedy, and we pray that their families' pain will be eased through the years," he said. "We will never forget what happened."
The Rev. James Sands of the Eldersville United Methodist Church gave the closing prayer and led those in attendance in singing "Amazing Grace."
"We pray for those who have lived for 11 years without mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and cousins," he said. "Bless them this day."
Emma Gagan sang "Prayer," "Only Hope" and "America the Beautiful," during which the audience rose without prompt and sang with her. Barb Zianni read "Meet Me in the Stairwell" by Stacey Randall. Ray Kotouch and his son, Steve, raised and lowered the flag to half-staff, and Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department members attended.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)