Provided by Prince William County
Brenda Lynch always visits the Prince William County 9/11 Memorial when she’s in the area visiting her grandchildren. Lynch, who used to live in the county, lost her husband, James, during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. She, as well as other community members, elected officials and county staff, attended the county’s annual ceremony this morning to honor and remember those who were killed that day.
After the ceremony, Lynch, who was married to her husband for nearly 16 years, said it’s vital to remember that day in 2001, but it’s also important to look forward. “It’s very important that we don’t forget what happened. We have to also look to the future. We have to remember the past, but life still has to go on.”
Board of County Supervisors Chairman’s Remarks
During the ceremony, Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart said it was hard to believe that 18 years had passed since the attack. “Most of us remember where we were when the graphic images of the collapse of the twin towers and the destruction at the Pentagon were shown again and again on every newscast and channel. It was almost as if we were watching a movie or television show. But all too quickly, we realized the enormity of the destruction and the implications for the future of our country, for our community.”
Stewart reminded everyone at the ceremony that Prince William County lost 22 citizens at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. “They were family members, friends and neighbors. They were part of our community. And we must not forget them, their families and all of those who were lost that day.”
Tolling of the Bell
Stewart also talked of the first responders who ran into the burning buildings to save others with no thought of their own personal safety. Stewart explained that the ringing of a bell toward the end of the ceremony recognized those first responders. “That is why we have the Tolling of the Bell. Before there were telephones and radios, fire departments used the telegraph to communicate. When a firefighter died in the line of duty, the Fire Alarm Office, the forerunner of today’s 9/11 call centers, would “tap out” a special signal – “Five-Five-Five” – five measured dashes and then a pause, five measured dashes and then a pause, and then five more dashes.
“This became known as the Tolling of the Bell. The Fire and Rescue service continues this honored tradition today.” Retired Lieutenant Jeff Howdyshell of the county’s Fire and Rescue System then rang the bell in honor and remembrance of all the victims of Sept. 11.
Donna Flory played “Taps” on the bugle to end the ceremony.
Thoughts from Veterans
Brenda Mojica, a U.S. Air Force veteran, attended the ceremony. She came because she thinks remembering 9-11 is essential. “It’s important to remember what today means to everyone. When I saw on TV what was going on, it was a call for action to me and it led me to enlist.”
Robert Alexander, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, said he got a scare followed by relief on 9/11. “My granddaughter was in the nursery right next door to where the plane hit. I ran all the way from 23rd Street over there, only to find out they took everyone down by the river and all the babies were safe.”
Alexander said he came to the ceremony for those who didn’t make it out of the Pentagon. “A lot of good people died that day.”
The Liberty Memorial
The county’s 9/11 memorial, also known as the Liberty Memorial, is located between the Prince William Parkway and the James J. McCoart Administration Building. It dedicated on May 9, 2006. The shape of the reflecting pool and walkway recall the 184 lost at the Pentagon. The single stone to the left of that plaque is an original limestone block from the collapsed portion of the Pentagon. The two columns of water represent the 2,749 lost at the World Trade Center in New York City. The stone that encircles the fountain is Pennsylvania flagstone, a tribute to the 40 lives lost in Pennsylvania. The flagpole standing at the Liberty Memorial is the flag pole that James T. Lynch, Jr., erected at his home in the county.
Our Fallen Neighbors
The following names are etched into the sides of the reflecting pool of those from Prince William County who died in the attacks that fateful day.
- Sergeant First Class John J. Chada, U.S. Army, Retired
- Petty Officer Third Class Jamie L. Fallon, U.S. Navy
- Amelia V. Fields
- Lt. Col. Robert J. Hymel, U.S. Air Force, Retired
- Sergeant Major Lacey B. Ivory, U.S. Army
- Judith L. Jones
- David W. Laychak
- James T. Lynch, Jr.
- Gene E. Maloy
- Robert J. Maxwell
- Molly L. McKenzie
- Craig J. Miller
- Diana B. Padro
- Rhonda S. Rasmussen
- Edward V. Rowenhorst
- Judy Rowlett
- Donald D. Simmons
- Jeff L. Simpson
- Cheryle D. Sincock
- Chief Information Systems Technician Gregg H. Smallwood, U.S. Navy
- Sergeant Major Larry L. Strickland, U.S. Army
- Sandra L. White
Across from the memorial is a sculpture made from beams in the World Trade Center. The three beams, leaning together at angles, rise to 22 feet and depict the chaos of the fallen towers. A fourth beam stands upright, apart from the others, to testify to the certainty of American resilience.
The public is welcome to visit the Liberty Memorial and World Trade Center Sculpture for remembrance and reflection.