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Published: Monday, 9/12/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Sylvania reflects on 9/11

Community gathers to remember, share memories

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Police Chief William Rhodus, left, joins firefighters and other police officers for the remembrance ceremony at River Centre Park in Sylvania. Sunday's event paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks and in the armed forces since. Police Chief William Rhodus, left, joins firefighters and other police officers for the remembrance ceremony at River Centre Park in Sylvania. Sunday's event paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks and in the armed forces since.
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Editor's Note: Corrected spelling of Sandy Gratop.

On Sept. 11, 2001, someone called in a bomb threat to the Sylvania Municipal Court.

Extra police were dispatched across the city of Sylvania -- it was unlikely the small Toledo suburb would be the target of an attack, but what happened that morning proved that terrorism could strike anywhere, at any time, without any notice.

Officers were put at the base of the water tower in case of an attempt to contaminate the water supply.

It was a day that cannot be forgotten, Mayor Craig Stough said during a Patriot's Day memorial ceremony at River Centre Park, at Main and Monroe streets, Sunday.

He was joined by about 50 others -- residents, city council members, police officers, and firefighters.

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The ceremony, which was the second of its kind in Sylvania Sunday, was "like others across the nation. Some larger, some smaller, but all heartfelt," the mayor said.

He briefly shared his memories of what people seem to refer to as "that day."

"When the second tower was hit, we knew it wasn't an accident," he said. "There was shock, anger, fear of not knowing what was to come."

Mayor Craig Stough holds up a page of The Toledo Blade honoring  36 servicemen who have died that have ties to northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan during a remembrance ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 at River Centre Park in Sylvania. Mayor Craig Stough holds up a page of The Toledo Blade honoring 36 servicemen who have died that have ties to northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan during a remembrance ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 at River Centre Park in Sylvania.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The mayor of Sylvania's sister city, Woodstock in Ontario, Canada, called Mayor Stough to ask if he could send police officers and firefighters to Sylvania for extra help.

The community, from beyond Sylvania's city limits, was coming together to help.

During the ceremony Sunday, a man wearing a World War II veteran's hat walked up to Scott Porterfield of Sylvania and touched the Air Force symbol on Mr. Porterfield's navy blue T-shirt.

The man smiled and said he was in the Air Force. A pilot. Flew a B-17.

The skies were a wonderful place to be, he added, pointing upward to the calm blue.

Mr. Porterfield thanked the man for his service to the country and added that his son is stationed in Little Rock, where he's a crew chief on a C-130, a cargo plane, and does maintenance work.

"Those are the guys that matter," Mr. Porterfield said, nodding his head in the man's direction as the veteran walked away.

The ceremony, Mayor Stough said, is meant to commemorate the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who have enlisted -- especially those who have lost their lives and those who were injured -- in the armed forces since.

Mr. Porterfield remembered that he was at work when he heard about the attacks. His daughter, who worked at a local news station, called him after seeing the raw footage. What was happening?

He closed the business about 11 a.m.; the schools, he said, were on lockdown. "It was a horrific day," he said.

Sandy Gratop of Sylvania watched on television as a plane flew into a tower. She thought it was a movie trailer.

"I thought, 'That is not a good topic for a movie,' " she recalled. It took her a few minutes, she said, to realize it was all too real.

She, like the others, came to remember, heal, pay tribute to those who died that day and to those who have died since.

Behind her, the crowd was gone. Only a couple of people were left, stacking and carrying off the chairs used for the ceremony.

The last order of business, though, was to return the American flag from half staff to the top of the pole.



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