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Looking back and moving forward

The people who lost their lives last year in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania would more than fill the seats at Bremerton High School’s Memorial Stadium.

And the number of people who’s lives were changed by the events of Sept. 11 would be too many to fill any stadium.

About 1,000 people attended Kitsap United in Memory at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

“I came to show I care, we won’t ever forget,” said Kathy Thuston of Bremerton.

Dawn Thompson, also of Bremerton, said she did not understand the magnitude of the event last year, and welcomed the opportunity to reflect.

“I think we are just more aware of our surroundings, a little more thoughtful maybe,” she said.

Numerous events were held locally and worldwide to mark the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and the repercussions continue as we fight the war in Afghanistan.

“It has been successful. It’s not going to be over quick, but we need to take it to the end,” said Charles Ketler of Bremerton.

As the sun set on the quiet crowd, a multi-agency honor guard presented the colors. A lifeless flag raised at half-staff glimmered in the last rays of daylight.

The national anthem was performed and the Pledge of Allegiance said with pride exceeding that at any baseball game.

Speakers Deborah Rattey, a Red Cross mental health volunteer who worked at Ground Zero for six weeks; U.S. Navy Capt. Clarke Orzalli, who worked in Washington, D.C. and frequented the wing of the Pentagon struck by the plane; and Seattle Firefighter Tony Bennett, a Kitsap resident who worked at Ground Zero as part of Puget Sound Search and Rescue Task Force communicated to the audience their direct involvement.

They spoke of the tireless, selfless efforts of fellow volunteers, firefighters and police officers and the unity the events fostered.

“My one strongest feeling from Ground Zero is that we will survive. We are strong,” Rattey said.

Orzalli said he doesn’t remember how he got home the night of the attacks, but clearly recalls the first thing he did when he got there.

“I know when I got home I wanted to hug my wife and kids,” he said.

Bennett assisted the New York firefighters in recovering bodies from the wreckage they referred to as “the pile.” He said whenever someone was found everyone went to help, and stood in silence as the remains were taken away.

“We must always remember our fallen heroes,” Bennett said.

Perhaps the most powerful portion of the program was a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” while Bremerton High School NJROTC students spread flames to candles given to the crowd.

The lights were dimmed — a crescent moon, an illuminated U.S. flag and hundreds of candles provided the only light. A bell tolled seven times followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”

The honor guard retired the colors and the flag was lowered on the first anniversary of Sept. 11.

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