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Published: Tuesday, 9/12/2006

Youths perform central roles in solemn Toledo 9/11 memorial

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo marked the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a low-key ceremony on Civic Center Mall yesterday.

Government officials expressed thanks for the volunteers, police officers, and firefighters who responded during and after the crisis.

One of the speakers, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), used the occasion to promote Toledo as a good location for a meeting of ambassadors from the Middle East to negotiate a solution to the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several hundred people observed the hour-long ceremony, which featured uniformed servicemen and women unfurling a flag on a large table as if over a casket.

Youths were given starring roles in the mostly solemn occasion.

In the crowd were the four Rossford High School students who walked to the World Trade Center this summer to raise money for memorials of the 9/11 attack: Tad Millinger, Dustin Dean, Chad Coulter, and Brandon Reinhard. They were given a standing ovation.

From left, Jane Moore of United Way, Joey Mravec of DeVeaux Junior High, and Deb Brough of the American Red Cross participate in the service with Marine Gunnery Sgt. Steven Kosinski.
From left, Jane Moore of United Way, Joey Mravec of DeVeaux Junior High, and Deb Brough of the American Red Cross participate in the service with Marine Gunnery Sgt. Steven Kosinski.
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"It's a huge honor to be recognized in front of the community," Mr. Millinger said afterward. "It makes all the pain we endured on the trip worth it."

The boys said they originally planned to be at Ground Zero yesterday to give 80 percent of the $17,000 they raised to the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.

But Mr. Millinger said they postponed the trip indefinitely because they did not want to take any attention away from the 9/11 memorial ceremonies in New York City.

They did, however, travel back to Shanksville, Pa., - by car - to give 20 percent of what they raised to the Flight 93 National Memorial on Sunday. Shanksville is where terrorist-flown United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field the same day as the attacks in New York and Washington.

Tatianna Owens, a freshman at the Toledo School for the Arts, sang "Hero" by Mariah Carey.

A group of honor students from DeVeaux Junior High School and Start High School also attended.

DeVeaux eighth-grader Joey Mravec, whose father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Joe Mravec, served 18 months in Iraq, sat on the platform and accepted a folded American flag presented by the seven-member joint military honor guard.

Sergeant Mravec, 42, said he was in long-range surveillance in the 425th Infantry, and was in Iraq from December, 2003, to March, 2005, where he saw combat.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner recalled that Sept. 11, 2001, was an election day in Toledo, and that the election went forward, even though consideration was given to postponing the voting.

"The greatest tribute you can pay is to move democracy forward," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "The cowardly attacks did not stop democracy in Toledo, Ohio."

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the Lucas County commissioners, said the news of the attacks triggered fear and worry about loved ones, even those not living near where the terrorists struck. She said the lesson learned is that "we must be prepared, even in Toledo and Lucas County.

"We must support our safety forces with time and training and tools," she said, citing the ongoing effort to upgrade the radio communications system linking all the law enforcement agencies in the county.

Rob Ludeman, president of Toledo City Council, also highlighted the need for preparation and praised the effort of those who responded to the attacks and rescued victims.

"Many lives were saved because of heroic acts that day," he said.

Miss Kaptur said yesterday should be "a day of remembrance and a day of resolve."

She said Toledo has such wide diversity of religious populations that it could play the same role that Dayton had in 1995 when the Clinton Administration convened peace talks there to bring an end to the war in Bosnia.

In an interview later, she said President Bush, the State Department, and the Republican-led Congress have had no communications with ambassadors from most of the Middle East.

"I think that the community should serve as host to all the ambassadors of the Middle East. A dialogue is not occurring elsewhere," Miss Kaptur said.

"We need to convene the nations that surround Iraq and Afghanistan."

Yesterday's ceremony included a flyover by a LifeFlight helicopter, a riderless horse, and a 21-shot salute by the Toledo Police Department.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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