The Nazareth community came together on Sunday to remember 9/11, honor the victims of the worst terror attack in American history and prepare for the future.
Hundreds of people of all ages filed into the auditorium at Nazareth Area High School to hear patriotic music, wave flags, applaud emergency responders and listen to speeches from local leaders.
The Nazareth Community Band, led by Ralph Brodt III, and the Nazareth Community Chorus, directed by Lenna Harris, provided the spirited music that started and ended the program and framed the speeches in between songs.
Firefighters, police officers and other front-line emergency responders turned out in abundance; the audience more than once showed its appreciation for their efforts.
The speeches focused on the people affected by the terror attacks of 10 years ago -- both on Sept. 11, 2001 and in the years since.
Bill Brackbill, the emcee of the event and a former Northampton County executive, began the theme of focusing on the personal level amidst a catastrophe of overwhelming scope.
He read a passage from a recent memoir by former Vice President Dick Cheney that describes how Cheney was hustled from his office to an underground bunker on the morning of 9/11. Only then did Brackbill reveal that Jim Scott, the Secret Service agent who propelled Cheney to the bunker, is Brackbill's son-in-law -- and in attendance at Sunday's service.
Scott hesitantly half-rose to acknowledge warm applause from the audience.
U.S. Rep. Charles Dent, R-15th, told the tale of his cousin, who was on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower -- just below the impact zone -- when it was struck by the hijacked jetliner 10 years ago. Dent's cousin and his co-workers managed a harrowing escape from the tower; everyone on floors above them died.
Paul McHale, the keynote speaker, told the tale of a local hero.
McHale, 61 -- a Bethlehem native who once held Dent's seat in Congress, a Marine Corps Reserves colonel and assistant Secretary of Defense -- described his long friendship with Bill Cahir, a reporter who once worked for the Express-Times of Easton.
Cahir, profoundly affected by 9/11, decided to join the Marine Corps Reserves at age 34 as his way to serve his country, McHale said.
Cahir served two tours in Iraq, then was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. He was killed in action in August of that year, the day after a horrific battle that McHale said will live in Marine lore alongside Iwo Jima.
Cahir was 40 when he died. His wife, Rene, was pregnant with twin girls, the couple's first children.
A clearly emotional but composed McHale noted that Cahir's daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth, “will never know their father but they will be the beneficiaries of his sacrifice.”
Additional music was provided by the Dream Kids, a local group of young singers and performers. They received a warm welcome from the many fit and active seniors in the audience.
One of those smiling seniors, Evelyn Werkheiser of Bushkill Township, paused for a few seconds when a reporter asked her what she thought of the service as she stood in the lobby, about to walk out into the gray drizzle.
“Inspiring,” she said simply.
Sunday's memorial event was sponsored by: