Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Ashland Holds September 11th Memorial Service

In a tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, a memorial service was held by the Washington Fire Company in Ashland.

The event, hosted by the Washington Fire Company Women's Auxiliary, took place on 13th Street and was the first time this commemoration had occurred since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prominent figures from the local community and law enforcement gathered to honor the memory of the tragic day. Speaking at the service were Schuylkill County Sheriff Joseph Groody and Ashland Fire Chief Philip Groody, who both delivered moving speeches reflecting on the solemn occasion.

The event saw the attendance from law enforcement including Schuylkill County District Attorney Mike O'Pake, Sheriff Deputies Shawn Butler and Mark O'Hearn, Butler Township Police Chief Chris Hand, and Ashland Police Officer Harry Brown. Representing the local firefighting community were members from the Washington Fire Company and Ambulance, as well as the American Hose Company.

Singing the National Anthem for the event was Autumn Falls Entertainment.  She also provided patriotic music after the service.

Sheriff Joseph Groody addressed the audience, recounting the events that unfolded on that tragic September day in 2001. He emphasized the importance of keeping the memory alive and shared his personal experience of learning about the devastating attacks. The Sheriff also read a poignant speech that he had delivered at several other September 11th events throughout the years, describing the profound transformation that swept across the nation in the wake of the attacks.

Fire Chief Philip Groody followed, underlining the significance of remembering September 11th as a day of reflection rather than celebration. He called for paying homage to all paid and volunteer emergency personnel, EMS, and firefighters across the nation, emphasizing that it is the best way to honor their service. Chief Groody also spoke passionately about the importance of volunteerism in the community.

"This is not a day to celebrate, but a day to be remembered," Chief Groody stated. "To pay homage to all the paid and volunteers, EMS, and firefighters across this country. This is the best thing you can do for all of us."

The Chief went on to discuss the decline in volunteerism, noting that at one point, Pennsylvania boasted 300,000 volunteers, but that number has dwindled to a mere 30,000. He attributed this decline to various factors, including attrition and a lack of interest among potential volunteers. Chief Groody highlighted the invaluable contribution of volunteers who selflessly serve their communities without financial compensation.

Chief Groody concluded his remarks by recounting the heroic efforts of volunteer firefighters during the May fire in the 1100 Block of Centre Street in the borough. Their swift response and dedication prevented a potentially devastating multi-alarm fire from spreading and causing extensive damage to a whole block of homes, showcasing the vital role of volunteers in safeguarding the community.

The service left those that attended with a profound sense of unity and a renewed commitment to remembering the heroes of September 11th, both those who perished and those who continue to protect and serve their communities with unwavering dedication.

Story/Photos/Video by J. Reed / Skook News