Kent thanks local safety workers with downtown 9/11 remembrance


Civic and religious leaders sing during a September 11th commemoration yesterday September 8th at Home Savings Plaza in downtown Kent. The commemoration was before the weekly concert held in the plaza. Photo by Phil Botta.

Taylor Rogers

Like so many Americans, Kent’s civic and religious leaders remember where they were when they first received word of the 9/11 attacks.

Betti Hazelton, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, said she was out shopping when she saw clusters of people gathering around the TVs inside a store.

“I joined the throngs, heard the reports and saw the crippled twin towers,” she said. “As I watched, the south tower collapsed.”

Hazelton reflected on this memory at Thursday’s 9/11 commemoration held in downtown Kent. Several area leaders, including Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala, gathered at the Home Savings Plaza to honor Kent’s local safety workers.

Hazelton opened the ceremony, discussing her experience upon hearing of the terrorist acts and how the phrase “oh my God” was transformed.

“‘Oh my God’ has become such a casual, throwaway line … the phrase has become almost meaningless,” she said. “But on that day, 10 years ago, ‘oh my God’ was anything but a throwaway line.”

Roughly 50 community members gathered around the plaza, watching as the Kent Fire Department Honor Guard posted and retired the colors.

Captain David Manthey of the Kent Fire Department also spoke briefly on the many changes in public safety since the attacks.

Manthey said he lost 343 of his brothers on 9/11.

“Firefighting is not a job,” said Manthey. “It’s a calling, and those that answer that call share a bond. We are tight; our lives depend on each other.”

Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee took time to comfort the audience, saying safety workers all over the nation have made adjustments and improvements to how they operate daily.

“Take faith that the deaths were not in vain,” said Lee. “Our nation has grown and adapted to terrorist attacks.”

Seven area religious leaders each read lines from a poem, repeating the phrase “Will you remember?” They offered a prayer for our country, encouraging those in attendance to reflect on how they felt when they found out we were under attack.

Attendees then listened as the Western Reserve Community Band played “America the Beautiful” to close out the service.

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde was also in attendance. Clyde said though this is an emotional time, it was comforting to hear from local safety workers.

Like so many others, she said her life changed in a very permanent way after 9/11.

“I went into service after that time,” she said, “and I think that this is a moment to reflect and come together.”

Fiala agreed, adding that our country will always be a resilient one.

“We’re stronger,” he said. “We always come back.”

Contact Taylor Rogers at [email protected].