Marysville Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony recognizes losses | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — The 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were marked by ceremony and introspection at the Police and Firefighters' Memorial in front of the Marysville Library.

Greg Kanehen, pastor of the Marysville Free Methodist Church and chaplain for the Marysville Police Department and Fire District, offered an opening invocation after the Marysville Fire District Color Guard had lined up in front of the memorial at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11 of this year.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring delivered the ceremony's main speech, reflecting on how quickly time seems to have passed in the intervening 11 years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, while also noting how that day dealt an even more personal loss to the Marysville community.

"My son is 12 years old now," Nehring said. "He has no recollection of the events of that day. He's learned of its significance through academic studies and stories told to him by his teachers and other elders. He's part of a generation that didn't experience those events the way we did. We remember exactly what we were doing when we found out about the attacks."

Nehring acknowledged that the closest experience to which he could compare that day was Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and he called upon the community to impart its understanding of Sept. 11, 2001 onto the generations to come.

Nehring went on to thank the Marysville Fire District for organizing and the Police Department for participating in the annual Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony, and while he expressed his appreciation to the city of Everett for inviting the Marysville community to attend Everett's ceremony later that same day, Nehring touted the value of maintaining a separate ceremony for the Marysville community, since Sept. 11, 2001, is also the day that Marysville Fire Lt. Jeff Thornton lost his life to cancer.

"His family is here today, and by coming out here today, the Marysville community continues to show that it stands with his family in their loss," said Nehring, who pointed out that one of the Marysville Fire District's restored trucks now bears a plaque in honor of Thornton on its front grill. "Of the 2,977 victims of Sept. 11, many were first responders, including 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers. It's said that a true friend is someone who walks in when others are walking out, and those first responders streamed in with no thought of the danger to themselves."

With the extended wars that have followed in the wake of that day, Nehring urged the Marysville community to recognize and support its local service members and veterans, as well as their families, in the midst of their ongoing struggles.

"Our military personnel have given up so much," Nehring said. "Many have been injured or given their lives. You've shown that you want to remember, and you can do so by keeping their stories and history alive and well. With as busy as our lives are, between phones and computers and email, it's rare that we can take a few moments to sit and think."

After Marysville Fire Capt. Matt Campbell rang the bell at the memorial at 8:48 a.m., in honor of Thornton and the first responders who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Marysville Fire Capt. Chip Kruse played "Taps" on his bugle and Snohomish County Fire District 1 firefighter Jhar Fuller played "Amazing Grace" on his bagpipes.

Jerry Thornton Sr., father of Jeff Thornton, smiled as he saw the fire truck plaque bearing his son's name, and voiced his gratitude to the community for their continued support of Jeff's memory.

"He was the able A-dog of the family, the oldest with four younger brothers," Jerry Thornton Sr. said. "He held the family together and was a leader in everything he did."

Among Jeff's achievements that Jerry Sr. recalled were taking his team to the 40-and-over championships in the 1999 Senior World Series, being among the first groups of firefighters to climb the Columbia Tower in the early 1990s and being inducted into the Hall of Fame of Foster High School in Tukwila, Jeff's old alma mater.

"This fire department is so much a part of our family," Jerry Thornton Sr. said.

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