The Inter-Mountain: Mournful legacy lives on for area residents 15 years after Sept. 11 tragedy

By Beth Christian Broschart

For The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS, W.Va.  — On Sept. 11, 2001, Americans gathered during and after the fateful events when thousands died during acts of terrorism, gathered with one another to pray, to mourn and to unite as “One Nation under God.” Now, 15 years later, how do people keep the promise, made that day, that “We will never forget”?

The Rev. Kevin Starcher, the Benfield-Vick Chaplain at Davis & Elkins College, David Memorial Presbyterian Church’s associate pastor and a member of the Elkins Volunteer Fire Department, said remembering the events of 9/11 is important because people need to keep the faith.

“We remember the story of creation because it tells us who we are, we remember the work of Christ on the cross because it tells us about who we are,” he said. “As we practice our faith, we practice love and hope and justice – looking out for our neighbors. We remember that perfect love casts out all fear.”

Starcher said he feels remembering 9-11 is important to our heritage.

“It reminds us that no matter what the world or life throws at us, we need to stick to our values and remember that there is no fear and we will eventually overcome,” he said.

He said first responders often possess the qualities of selflessness and caring for their neighbors, as shown during 9/11.

Fact Box

Honoring the Fallen

A pair of local events will honor first

responders for and those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The Presbyterian Church in Elkins will honor the fallen during its annual picnic at Elkins City Park on Sunday. The picnic starts at 1 p.m. In addition, the city of Elkins will have a moment of silence during its weekly prayer at the pole outside City Hall at noon Monday. The public is invited.

“Being in the fire department is an expression of my faith,” Starcher said. “It is an expression of greater love where one is willing to lay down his life for others.”

Patrick Traxler, a Buckhannon fireman, EMT and religious studies student at West Virginia Wesleyan College, said it is important for people to keep the events of 9/11 fresh in their memory because of the sacrifices people made that day.

“When 9/11 happened I was in second grade,” Traxler said. “Kids in older grades began watching it when it happened on television; however, as young as I was I don’t remember much until I went home that night. My mother was sitting in front of the television crying and I thought that was odd. I didn’t fully grasp what was going on until a few years later.”

Traxler said he is a member of the brotherhood of firefighters and first responders, which also included the 343 men and women first responders in New York City, who had no idea the towers were going to collapse on 9/11.

“They did not know this would be their final call,” Traxler said. “People want to focus on one group of people either the victims that were on the planes, or the police officers or the fire fighters. But I think we need to remember them as a whole and not as separate groups of people.”

He said he feels America took a huge hit that day, with more than 3,000 deaths in the attack.

“Lots of times people focus in on the Pentagon or the World Trade Center, or they focus in on Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but we need to remember all three of those equal because it was all part of one big plan,” Traxler said. “It is baffling to me that kids who are freshmen in high school are learning about 9/11 as a historical event now. I remember when it happened and it is baffling to me that it is a historical event.”

Traxler said we need to remember all of the lives lost that day.

“We need to keep this fresh in our minds, especially with the world we are living in today,” Traxler said. “People do not take a holistic view on things. They view the world through their little viewing glass and if people don’t think the way they think, they think it is wrong. But we need to be more compassionate towards other people.”

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