Community honors anniversary of 9/11
GRASONVILLE — With bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” at The Jetty restaurant on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Queen Anne’s County honored the seminal point in recent American history.
Justin Davis, CEO of First Light for First Responders, started Toast for Heroes with eight other members of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department to honor the victims and fallen first responders of the terrorist attacks at the Twin Towers in New York City.
“Myself and others from the Kent Island Fire Volunteer Department went to New York after the attacks in 2001,” Davis said. “We started doing something to commemorate it, and we’ve been doing it every year since 2002. We started it at previous bars and started getting more and more people to where we are now.”
Although the attacks occurred 17 years ago, Davis pointed out the need to continue to educate subsequent generations about its implications on the country and to pay respect to the fallen. He said the support he received for the event came largely from the “tight-knit” community of Kent Island.
The commemoration is put on by volunteers and has cultivated a following of supporters who have made it a yearly tradition. It also is funded by raffle sales to continue the participation of a bagpipe duo.
“My main reason for doing this is for the kids that weren’t around when everything happened,” Davis said. “It’s extremely important for me because in recent years, people are trying to erase history. Me being there and witnessing these things, I can tell them exactly what happened and they can tell their kids.”
For Justin Kiernen, general manager of The Jetty Restaurant and Dock Bar, being able to host such an event was a point of pride.
“This is beyond special,” Kiernen said. “This is a way to give back to the community and remember all those people that lost their lives so we can live the way we do. We’re honored to do it, and we want to thank all the people that make it possible.”
The program included the recitation of the policemen’s and firefighter’s prayer and a speech by Davis highlighting the importance of patriotism and sacrifice. Davis also read a poem written by a fellow firefighter following their time in New York.
“We just want people to come together and never forget what happened on that horrific day. We need to look at the positive things that came out of that like the country coming together,” Kiernen said.
County Commissioners Steve Wilson, Jim Moran, Jack Wilson were on hand, as well as Republican county commissioner candidates Chris Corchiarino and Phil Dumenil. Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann also addressed the crowd in a speech that underscored the important role of first responders on Sept. 11.
“Everyone remembers where they were on Sept. 11. That day, so many American lives were lost,” Hofmann said. “We trusted our first responders when they ran towards danger to help those civilians that needed attention and protection from the dangers that were put there. We salute them and our military for all they do.”
As Davis raised a glass to the memory of those lost, he said the numerous individuals are gone but far from forgotten.
Justin Davis, CEO of First Light for First Responders, speaks to guests as footage of the terrorist attacks is replayed.
Justin Davis, CEO of First Light for First Responders, started Toast for Heroes and raised a glass to them.
Bagpiper Randy Welch of Easton leads the procession to kick off the Toast to Heroes on Sept. 11 at The Jetty.