MONTPELIER — The crowd in front of the free stage at the Williams County Fair were in an appropriately somber mood Wednesday evening as a special memorial service was held commemorating the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Except for one speaker who used the sound facilities on stage, the ceremony was held in front of the stage itself. A soft wind blew in the background, giving motion to the gigantic American flag hanging on the end of a ladder on a Montpelier fire engine.

An opening prayer was followed by the playing of the national anthem.

Ten firefighters, each representing a different Williams County fire department, stood in a circle in front of the stage, each lighting a red, white and blue candle. The last to be lit was a candle in the center of the circle which displayed the number 343, the number of firefighters who lost their lives on 9-11. A large banner with the number 343 also hung from the fire truck displaying the flag.

The crowd recited the pledge of allegiance, followed by a recording of “America the Beautiful” and a moment of silence for those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field where flight 93 crashed.

A recording of “God Bless America” was followed by the recitation of “A Fireman’s Prayer” and the song “Where Were You when the World Stopped Turning.”

A timeline was then read in which the specific events of the attack were mentioned. The first plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m., with the south tower following at 9:03 a.m. The Pentagon was struck at 9:37 a.m., and the south tower fell at 9:59 a.m., with the crash in Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m.

Following the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 a.m., fires burned at ground zero for 99 days. The youngest passenger on a hijacked aircraft that day was 2 years of age; the oldest, 82.

The poem “We Shall Never Forget” was read, followed by a recording of “God Bless the USA.”

A light rain began to fall during the prayer near the end of the ceremony, which concluded with the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes near the still-waving flag.

On the cover: South Richland Fire Department (top photo) honored the 343 firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice on Sept. 11, 2001 with a tribute in front of the fire department on E. Second Street in Defiance on Wednesday.

The Defiance police and fire departments (bottom left)held a bell ringing ceremony on Wednesday to honor fallen first responders. Here firefighter Kevin Weis rings the memorial bell located at the corner of Perry and Third streets in downtown Defiance.

First responders from the city of Bryan and Williams County light candles during a ceremony on Wednesday afternoon to remember fallen first responders.

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