Firetrucks and other emergency vehicles lined North Court Street outside City Hall in Frederick on Wednesday morning as city, county and Fort Detrick officials spoke about the need to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — 18 years later.
For Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, the commanding general at Fort Detrick, this year marks something significant — 18 is the age that people can enlist in America's armed forces without the permission of a parent or guardian.
Some of these men and women hadn't yet been born when the terror attacks happened, Talley said. But that doesn't mean they're any less courageous, he added.
"It really speaks to their dedication to this country, their dedication to our ideology, which certainly goes back to our values, our many freedoms sometimes that we take for granted," Talley said after the ceremony. "So when you volunteer knowing the risks, and your family understands the risks, I think that’s especially significant with their service. Again, they didn’t see what happened then, but yet they volunteer to serve their country and I think that’s incredibly important."
Frederick Mayor Michael O'Connor thanked first responders and those gathered for their response on that day, and reminded people to never forget what happened.
He added that American resiliency has been a common thread in the years since.
"Out of the ashes, and every day since, we must commit ourselves to the ideals of the American spirit," O'Connor said.
County Executive Jan Gardner recalled the city and county's response on that day, when entire buildings were draped in American flags.
The terrorists who planned and took part in the 9/11 attacks tried to shake the American spirit, but they couldn't shake the determination of its citizens, Gardner said.
Like Talley, she said it's important to educate those who were not alive yet about that tragic day.
"We now have a whole generation who can't remember this firsthand, so it is our responsibility to remind them," Gardner said.
Members of the Frederick Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services, Fort Detrick and other officials crowded the first-floor hearing room at City Hall to pay their respects.
County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer read a Patriot Day proclamation, and Frederick Police Chaplain Doug Jones led a prayer.
Talley was stationed at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, when the attacks happened.
At first, a friend informed him that one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit by a plane. He and others thought that was an accident.
But then, the second plane hit the other tower. And reports rolled in about the attacks at the Pentagon and elsewhere. Talley and others realized America was being deliberately attacked.
Talley said he has served in the Army for almost 37 years. Sept. 11, 2001, is a key reason why he is compelled to continue serving, he said.
"I kid my mom all the time, 'Hey, Mom, I’m thinking about making it a career,' and it doesn’t even feel like it," Talley said. "But when I think of 9/11 and why am I even in this uniform, why do it? 9/11 is a stark reminder why. If I am having to make a sacrifice or do something to save my country, 9/11 serves as that foundation for continued service."