Elkton man spurs 9/11 cer­e­mony in honor of brother


Spe­cial from the Ne­wark Post

— Ev­ery day for the past 15 years, Ruth Fang­man has flown a small Amer­i­can flag in the win­dow of her car, even keep­ing ex­tras in stock in case one is dam­aged or lost.

It’s a small ges­ture she does as a way to honor the mem­ory of her son, Bobby, and the 2,996 other peo­ple who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Bobby was a flight at­ten­dant on United Air­lines Flight 175, which was the sec­ond plane to be flown into the World Trade Cen­ter on that fate­ful day. He was 33 when he died.

“It’s a hole in my heart and it never closes, that’s for sure,” she said.

Mem­bers of the Fang­man fam­ily, in­clud­ing his brother Steve Fang­man, of Elkton, were the guests of honor at a 9/11 me­mo­rial cer­e­mony held at Ne­wark’s city hall on Fri­day. City of­fi­cials is­sued a procla­ma­tion in honor of Pa­triot Day and vowed to con­tinue hold­ing re­mem­brances each year.

The cer­e­mony was or­ga­nized at the urg­ing of Steve Fang­man, who said that it seems like in re­cent years, many peo­ple have for­got­ten about 9/11.

“What hurts us is when on Pa­triot Day, you drive around and don’t see any flags. You saw them for two years af­ter 9/11, but you don’t see them any more. We’re hop­ing th­ese kind of events will in­spire the coun­try to come to­gether again,” he said.

Robert “Bobby” Fang­man was the youngest of seven sib­lings and grew up in Clay­mont, Del.

Steve de­scribed his brother as a “free spirit” who loved life and loved trav­el­ing. It was that wan­der­lust that drove him to be­come a flight at­ten­dant.

“He walked away from a job with Ver­i­zon Wire­less mak­ing $70,000 a year to go be a flight at­ten­dant and do what he loved to do,” Steve said.


Bobby lived that dream for less than a year be­fore he boarded Flight 175 in Bos­ton the morn­ing of 9/11. He wasn’t sup­posed to work that flight but had switched with another flight at­ten­dant.

Suf­fer­ing from sur­vivor’s guilt, that flight at­ten­dant later reached out to the fam­ily and told them about a chance meet­ing she had with Bobby the morn­ing of his last flight. She re­called him ex­cit­edly dis­cussing the sight­see­ing he planned to do af­ter the plane landed in Los An­ge­les and he had some free time.

“This woman was so touched by it that she ac­tu­ally made that trip for him,” Steve said. “She did ev­ery­thing on his agenda to ac­com­plish that for him.”

The fam­ily later learned that Bobby was the one who called his air­line from the back of the plane to re­port the hi­jack­ing.

“I wasn’t on that plane, but I guar­an­tee you that af­ter he called it in, then he sat down and com­forted the peo­ple around him be­cause that’s who he was,” Steve said.

Coun­cil­woman Marge Had­den, who spear­headed Fri­day’s cer­e­mony, said re­mem­ber­ing the vic­tims of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks is im­por­tant.

“To for­get will deny them their place in his­tory. To for­get would be cow­ardly be­cause we wouldn’t have to face the re­al­ity of that time,” she said. “We must al­ways re­mem­ber the day and all those who died and the ac­tions of all those who stepped for­ward.”

Had­den hopes that Ne­wark’s Pa­triot Day cer­e­mony be­comes an an­nual tra­di­tion and en­cour­aged all Ne­wark­ers to fly flags at half-staff each Sept. 11.

“The 9/11 ter­ror acts against us de­stroyed lives, build­ings and plunged our na­tion into a new type of war,” she said. “But the acts didn’t de­stroy our will, our free­doms or our spirit. We over­came. And now it’s our job to pass along to gen­er­a­tions to come that mo­ment in his­tory we lived through.”

City Man­ager Carol Houck also touched on that theme, not­ing that the stu­dents en­ter­ing high school this year are the first class to be born af­ter 9/11 and are learn­ing about the at­tacks strictly as a his­tor­i­cal event.

“That fact, in my mind, height­ens our re­spon­si­bil­ity to tell the sto­ries of courage that de­fined our na­tion that day,” she said.


Steve Fang­man, whose brother Bobby was killed in the Sept. 11 at­tacks, says the Pledge of Al­le­giance at a Sept. 11 remembrance event at Ne­wark city hall on Fri­day.

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