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Howard County reflects and remembers lives lost during 9/11 attacks

Howard County elected officials, public safety officers and community members gathered in the courtyard of the George Howard building Wednesday morning to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Howard County elected officials, public safety officers and community members gathered in the courtyard of the George Howard building Wednesday morning to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (Jess Nocera / Baltimore Sun)

Silence fell outside Howard County’s George Howard Building on Wednesday morning as bagpipes played and a white wreath with a red, white and blue ribbon was placed at the flagpole.

The flags were at half staff to signify the nearly 3,000 American lives that were lost when hijacked passenger jets were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Northern Virginia and a field in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

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At 10:28 a.m. Wednesday, marking when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed 18 years ago, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball along with other county, state and elected officials, members of the county police, fire and sheriff departments, and residents gathered in the courtyard of the George Howard Building.

“It’s important to not only remember but also [to] honor and unify because we need to send a message that we are united and we are stronger than any terrorist attack that seeks to divide us,” Ball said.

Four Howard County residents were among those who lost their lives during the coordinated terrorist attacks. As their names were read, a silver fire engine bell rang out for each of them.

Sarah Clark, 65, of Columbia, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

Two Columbia residents, Col. Ronald F. Golinski, 60, and Lt. Darin Howard Pontell, 26, and Laurel resident Retired Master Sgt. Max Beilke, 69, died at the Pentagon, according to the Pentagon Memorial Fund.

Councilman David Yungmann said the annual event is to ensure that people remember what happened on that day.

“We have short memories,” Yungmann said. “It’s important that we don’t move on and we don’t forget this.”

Two county fire trucks, with an American flag hung between their extended ladders, were parked at the entrance of the George Howard Building.

Wednesday’s ceremony closed with a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.”

In 2002, the Garden of Hope, a memorial garden, was built in the south area of Ellicott City’s Centennial Park, to pay tribute to all 2,996 victims.

Special announcements were read in the morning at all county schools. There was one for middle and high schools and another for elementary students.

An excerpt from the secondary schools, just after a moment of silence, reads: “As we have done on this day for the past 18 years, let us send a message to the world that we, the people of the United States of America, stand united as a nation celebrating democracy in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

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