A new generation of remembering

By on September 13, 2017

WHS Civics Club conducts 9/11 service

Warwick High School student Amelia Fair sings National Anthem during Monday’s 9/11 service. She was three months old when that infamous day unfolded 16 years ago.

September 11, 2001, was Barry Lavender’s day off as a New York City police officer.

Things changed quickly that day.

Living in Yonkers at the time, Lavender had just come back from running errands that morning. When he returned to his home, his wife Mary Lynn was watching the news. The second tower had just been hit by an airplane. It was clear that it was no accident. New York City was under terrorist attack.

At the bottom of the television screen, first responders in New York City and surrounding areas were being called to duty. Lavender was out of the door in a flash, responding to the call without a moment’s hesitation.

What he saw in Lower Manhattan was true horror for Lavender as they tried to save people and later helped to search for the missing. It was 16 years ago, but Lavender still vividly revisits things he will never be able to forget.

A New York City September 11 photo from Mike Sham’s collection, which was on display during Monday’s service at Warwick High School.

At Monday morning’s 9/11 Memorial Service at Warwick High School, Lavender was among dozens of local firemen, police officers, EMTs, service personnel, school officials, teachers and a few students. He and his wife Mary Lynn have lived in Lititz now for 14 years, after moving from New York with their two sons, Zachary and Dillon.

A retired police officer, Lavender is well known by many families in Lititz and the Rothsville area. That’s because he now works for the U.S. Post Office as a mail carrier.

“I have stayed in touch with many of the first responders who had been there that day on 9/11,” said Lavender, adding that he considered himself fortunate that he did not suffer from illnesses that have sickened and even killed many of his fellow first responders.

His son Zachary was young then. Now he is serving as a NYPD officer, just like his father.

Mike Sham, retired New York City Police Department officer, with
his daughter Ashley, a Warwick High School student who was
four months old on September 11, 2001.

Mike Sham, now of Lititz, is another former NYPD officer. He was already retired for three years in 2001. His daughter, Ashley, was just four months old at the time. He was literally bouncing her on his knee when he saw the news broadcast on 9/11.

“I was was watching the news and saw the first plane hit the tower. When I saw the second plane hit, I was in shock. It looked like something from a movie. But it was very real,” said Sham, adding that three people he knew died at 9/11.

For Ashley, she was only vaguely aware of what happened on 9/11 as she grew up. Now a student at Warwick High School, she has learned about that tragic day from history teachers and from her father.

Mike Sham has a collection of photographs of 9/11 that he displayed at Monday’s ceremony. They were taken by various photographers and friends of his. One was of Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain who died while trying to help victims of the attack. Others showed emergency vehicles covered in dust and smashed to pieces. There is also a photograph of a piece of a steel structure from the World Trade Center that formed the shape of a cross.

“That, to me, is an image I will always remember,” said Sham.

Mary Lynn and Barry Lavender

Warwick High School junior Amelia Fair sang the National Anthem at Monday’s ceremony as students, teachers, administrators and emergency personnel gathered at the high school flagpole. The flag was flying at half-mast and the sky was a clear bright blue, much like it was on Sept. 11, 2001.

Fair was was just three months old when 9/11 happened. She was just a baby, like Ashley Sham, but it was important to her to sing the National Anthem, as she did at last year’s service.

The memorial was organized by high school social studies teacher Paul Castellitto, advisor for the school’s Civics Club. It was the fifth year that Castellitto planned the early morning memorial service at 7:10 a.m., just before students begin their school day.

Many local first responders were there at the ceremony. They came from the Lititz Borough Police and the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police. They came from the Brickerville Volunteer Fire Company, the Brunnerville Volunteer Fire Company, the Lititz Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 and the Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company. They represented the Brickerville VFC Ambulance, Rothsville VFC Ambulance Corps, and the Warwick Community Ambulance Association.

Two Hometown Heroes were also honored during the ceremony, Ron Oettel and Jeremy Williams.

Oettel has been Lititz’s fire chief for many years and started volunteering with the local company when he was a teenager.

Williams is an Eagle Scout and Warwick High School graduate. He joined the U.S. Navy Seabees and served five years honorably from 2010-2015, stationed in Mississippi. While serving, he was deployed to Guam, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, and Afghanistan to support the Marines.

Warwick High School Civics Club members who helped with the event include Brooks Morgan, Nate Castellitto, Ben Pennypacker, Chis Gyles, David Dieal, Foster Lobb, Jill Colebert, Kyle Emlet, Pietro Elliott, Maicy Herr, Makenna Nicarry, Nicholas Williams, Ethan Blazek, Tabby Delmont, Valerie Hanna, Olivia Robinson and Tara Copenhaver.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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