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Meredith remembers tragedy, heroism on Sept. 11

September 15, 2010
MEREDITH — Nine years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Meredith community gathered to remember the day's heroes and vowed never to forget.

Locals came out to Hesky Park on Saturday for Meredith's annual Sept. 11 commemoration. Hosted by American Legion Post 33, town officials and those connected to the events of that day spoke to the crowd.

"It was the ultimate irony that it was a beautiful day like today when America was attacked on its own soil," said emcee Pat Kelly.

Fire Chief Ken Jones and Deputy Chief Andre Kloetz rang "the Four Fives," the ringing of four tones five times to announce the death of a firefighter. This year's ringing was done for the first time on a new bell with a wooden frame.

"Nine years and a few hours ago, the world felt the reign of terror on US soil," said Police Chief Kevin Morrow. "The time to mourn has come and gone for most. The memories of citizens killed on Sept. 11, 2001 will never be forgotten."

Morrow said people shall never forget the honor, pride, and support that happened on that day.

"We shall never forget, we shall keep this day and the tears in our minds and we shall take them with us as we carry on," Morrow said.

Jones honored those lost that day, including the 343 emergency responders. Jones also spoke of how the day changed everyone's lives in one way or another, including how America initiated action overseas.

"Let us never forget the day of Sept. 11, 2001, the day that the precious American life was taken away from many," Jones said. "May our thoughts and prayers be with all."

Board of Selectmen Chair Chuck Palm said Sept. 11, 2001 was the day the lives of Americans were changed forever. The Meredith ceremony should always remain a remembrance and tribute to those who have lost their lives, but it is also a moment to remember the heroism that was shown that day.

"We recall and we celebrate how we as Americans acted that day," Palm said. "How ordinary human beings acted in an instant. On Sept. 11, 2001 we saw ordinary people choose duty in the face of death."

Palm said this included the passengers of Flight 93 who rose up against those who hijacked their plane. He also honored those who have served in the Armed Forces.

Meredith Selectman Miller Lovett spoke on a personal level about his family's close call on Sept. 11, 2001. Lovett said his wife Ginny was planning to take a flight from Boston to Chicago that would go to China where she would visit her son, a teacher.

Ginny Lovett went to Logan and was originally going to take a 9:30 a.m. flight to Chicago but was put on an earlier plane. Miller Lovett said she stood by the gate for United Airlines Flight 175 and watched the people go on the plane, including a man she recognized as the parent of a child that was in her class.

Ginny Lovett's plane left Logan at 8:30 a.m., and 20 minutes later the captain came over the loudspeakers saying they were not allowed to fly in American airspace. People went on their cell phones and word quickly spread of what had happened. Her plane later landed in Hamilton, Ontario. While the passengers were checking through Canadian customs, a pilot's uniform was found in one bag. At the same time someone who had been on the plane said his seatmate suddenly disappeared.

After learning of the tragedy earlier that day, Miller Lovett finally heard from his wife later that afternoon and was relieved.

Ralph Ascoli's sister Debbie Ascoli-Manetta worked for Carr Futures in the 91st floor of the North Tower. That week, she made arrangements with her husband Kenny, a sergeant with the New York Police Department, to drop her older daughter off at school.

"She took her daughter to school on Monday, but unfortunately went to work on Tuesday," Ascoli said.

Ascoli said he was in Albany, N.Y., at the time and one of his co-workers went into his office and told him a plane hit the World Trade Center.

"I said 'Go back to work, planes always hit buildings in Manhattan,'" Ascoli said.

Soon there were 50 people in his office watching the tragedy unfold.

In New York City, Ascoli said his sister managed to borrow a coworker's cell phone and called her husband, telling him not to worry, recalling a previous attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Her last words to her husband were, "Don't get upset in front of the girls. We're waiting for the fire department to come get us."

Ascoli said her daughters are now 12 and 10 and their father is no longer a police officer.

"My job is to keep my sister's memory alive," Ascoli said. "All of our jobs are to be proud Americans, to live free then die and to celebrate life. Hopefully someday the people who brought this terror to our land will be caught and will be brought to justice."

Post 33 Commander Bob Kennelly said there are people who would ask why the ceremony still takes place every year.

"The answer is we know some of the people who died that day and feel commonality to those we didn't know," Kennelly said. Of the terrorists, "The problem is, our way of life is working and they feel it is a threat."

Garnett Hill
Salmon Press
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