As people across the nation pay their respects to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, dozens gathered in Salem on Sunday to pay tribute at the Valleywide 15th Anniversary 9/11 Remembrance Service.
“A lot of my friends are fire department members,” said Chad Clark, who attended the ceremony. “Obviously 9/11 is a day that none of us will ever forget.”
For Americans like Clark, attending a service like this one is his way to pay respects.
“It’s something that we as a nation, as a community should never forget,” he said. “Our nation was attacked that day.”
“I was right here at Station 1 on Engine 1, and all we did was watch TV and run calls all day long, praying that people would be found alive,” said John Prillaman, Salem fire chief.
Prillaman thought back to that day as he offered his reflections during the service. A few years ago, Prillaman and other firefighters from the Roanoke Valley visited the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
“It was very emotional,” he said. “All of us watched the events unfold on the TV, but to actually be up there and to touch pieces of that – it was incredible.”
Visitors to Salem’s 9/11 memorial left badges and flowers to honor the fallen. This is the second year a 9/11 remembrance ceremony has been held at the memorial site, Prillaman said.
A piece of steel from the Twin Towers was dedicated in Salem last year, he added.
“I was very biased on where I wanted it because I felt like its home should be right here – at the corner of the police and fire station,” Prillaman said.
“The time period after that – it brought us all together as a nation,” Clark said. “And things like this still bring us together. It’s something we can all rally behind and support and understand.”