Under a sea of sunlight, part of the World Trade Center was resurrected today in Anne Arundel County.
This morning, more than 150 people came together outside of the Anne Arundel County fire and police headquarters in Millersville to dedicate a memorial paying tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 .
The memorial structure centers around two giant steel beams that were salvaged from the rubble of the Twin Towers. The beams were donated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the county.
Nine years after the terror attacks that left a country shocked and horrified, the day's message was one of resolve and determination.While the event was somber in nature, the rhetoric of the keynote speaker, Richard McFeely, was firm and resolute. McFeely, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore division, used the opportunity to re-affirm the importance of fighting Al-Qaeda and other extremist organizations.
"It's of utter importance that we don't falter in our fight against extremists," McFeely told a crowd of families, politicians, police and firefighters.
Congressman Frank Kratovil (D-MD) echoed the same sentiment when he told Greater Annapolis Patch why it was important to remember the fallen.
"We have to be vigilant; I think our country overall has done a good job, but obviously we can improve . . . there are always gaps that you can make better and I think moving forward that is going to be the key," said Kratovil.
The event brought together citizens from all walks of life. From politicians to firefighters, everyone seemed to have a unique memory of where they were on Sept. 11, 2001. However, the common bonds of unity and remembrance are what brought people together nine years later, according to Art Huseonica, a resident of Crofton.
"What drew me out here today was the symbolism and the freedom that America represents," said Huseonica.
The memories are even more personal for Huseonica's wife, Karen, who lost family members in the attacks.
"I lost people . . . so it's very near and dear to my heart," explained Karen Huseonica.
As religious and anti-Islamic rhetoric continues to heat up across the country, the day should also serve as a reminder of America's tolerance, according to Madonna Brennan, Democratic candidate for the District 33A seat in Maryland's House of Delegates.
"With everything that's going on in this country right now . . . I think we need to not lose sight of our tolerance and inclusion," explained Brennan.
While some hope that a message of tolerance becomes an underlying theme of the 9/11 anniversary, the memorial event carries a somber tone for those who wear the uniform of a firefighter or police officer; 343 firefighters and 60 police officers lost their lives while responding to the attacks on the Twin Towers.
Anne Arundel County Fire Department Division Chief Keith Swindle described the moment he heard the news as if it happened yesterday.
"I know exactly where I was; I was conducting training down at the fire academy," Swindle recalled.
There was only one word to describe his feelings when the news broke.
"Shock," Swindle replied gravely.
Although the ceremony concluded with a solemn rendition of Taps, a strong sense of optimism could be felt in the air — perhaps due in part to the fact that, in a way, part of the World Trade Center now stands upright again.