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Ten years after 9/11, Marysville still remembers

MARYSVILLE — On Sept. 11, 2001, Marysville police officers and firefighters not only watched as they lost fellow police officers and firefighters to the terrorist attacks in New York City, but also suffered the loss of one of their own at home.

Ten years later, the Marysville community came together to pay tribute not only to the 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers and emergency workers who fell that day trying to save the lives of others, but also to the Marysville Fire District's Lt. Jeff Thornton, who passed away that same day after battling with cancer.

Tom Albright, who serves as a chaplain for the Marysville Police Department and Fire District, delivered the opening prayer for remembrance at Marysville's 10-year anniversary 9/11 memorial ceremony on the morning of Sept. 11 of this year. As he spoke to the crowds surrounding the Police and Firefighters Memorial outside of the Marysville Public Library at 8:30 a.m., Albright pointed out that he has three sons in uniform; a staff sergeant with the Army National Guard, an Everett firefighter and a Stillaguamish Tribal Police officer.

Albright reminded the event's attendees of not only the first responders, but also those in the World Trade Center, on the airplanes and at the Pentagon, "who lost their lives in innocence, either by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by doing their duty and following their calling to serve and save lives." He likewise recalled the friends and families of those who were lost, as well as the veterans who sacrificed in service to their country in the wake of the terrorist attacks, including those who are still with us.

"We pray for those veterans who live with wounds of body, mind and soul from the ravages of war," Albright said. "We lift up our nation and all the people of our world whose lives have been so impacted by the horrific kills of 10 years ago."

Albright urged his countrymen to follow the example of how Americans showed solidarity with one another in the immediate wake of 9/11.

"Forgive us when religion becomes a tool of selfish, nationalistic or evil actions," Albright said. "Help us to establish relationships with other faiths and traditions, and seek to be one together in our common humanity."

Before the Marysville Fire District Honor Guard paraded the colors and Marysville firefighter Tim Gunn rang the bell at the memorial at 8:46 a.m., in honor of Thornton and the first responders who perished in the World Trade Center attacks, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring spoke of the national character that he believes Americans collectively demonstrated in response to the deaths of 2,977 victims that day.

"We were meant to take the attacks personally and we did," Nehring said. "But the hijacking terrorists didn't bargain on our resilience as a proud and free nation, the endurance of our values and our dedication to rebuild and move forward. The terrorists accomplished their goal of killing Americans, but they didn't come anywhere near to destroying the American spirit."

Nehring noted that the day's losses became "one life even more personal" with the passing of Thornton.

"'Fireman Jeff,' as he was known to many of our schoolchildren through his classroom visits as a public educator and around the community, is still fondly remembered by his Marysville Fire District family, Marysville Police and city personnel, and others who knew him," Nehring said.

Nehring cited the community spirit that Marysville citizens have expressed on this occasion, last year during a 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance that saw the city of Marysville's Parks and Recreation Department team up with the Rotary Club or Marysville, the Marysville Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other volunteers in renovating and refurbishing Jennings Park.

"It was an effort started by 9/11 family members and support groups as a way to honor the victims and heroes of 9/11, and to rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that followed the attacks," Nehring said.

Nehring concluded his remarks by expressing his gratitude to the public safety personnel  — including police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders — who serve the community.

"They deserve our respect and recognition for the jobs they have done and continue to do so well, saving our lives and property while putting their own lives on the line, on this day and throughout the year," Nehring said. "When we leave this ceremony, let us reflect on this tragedy and these memories with a fuller heart and the knowledge that we live in a community and nation that is resilient and remembers its past, but always moves forward."

A round of "Taps" by Marysville Fire Capt. Chip Kruse and "Amazing Grace" by Snohomish County Firefighter-Bagpiper Tobin Beard closed out the ceremony.

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