When event coordinator Tom Berlett planned the 20-year anniversary memorial of the destructive events on September 11, 2001, he wanted to honor first responders who go above and beyond to help in time of need. A special recognition was given to nurses who have helped during periods of crisis.
As plans evolved, he also wanted to have the right guest speaker for the tribute, held in Washington this past weekend on Sunday, September 12, 2021. Those who heard Eric Schermerhorn present his message “Turning Points” during the memorial can attest to the achievement of Tom’s goal.
Schermerhorn, an educator and head basketball coach at Washington Community High School (WCHS), gave a stirring message and a history lesson to those who remember where they were on the tragic day when 2,763 perished in the destruction of the World Trade Center, 189 at the Pentagon, and 44 passengers and crew of flight 93 in Shanksville, PA.
Five hundred chairs were set up at Washington’s park near the helicopter for the memorial event. First responders, residents and youth who were not alive on September 11, 2001, sat under a clear blue sky to hear an invocation from Pastor Dave Jane, a welcome from Mayor Gary Manier, a first responder recognition from Washington’s police chief, Mike McCoy, and guest speaker introduction from Brett Adams.
WCHS cheer leader Nora Herman, seated with the dignitaries at the memorial, gave a short history of Washington’s 9/11 memorial event, requesting that the founding memorial Washington resident, Mrs. Uftring, rise for recognition.
Two Scout USA troops from Washington walked to the park from the tennis courts along with the cheerleaders, athletic teams from WCHS and residents. A couple of dogs walked with their owners. Their trek through the park was accompanied by drummer Kendall Gerth.
When the OSF Trauma Center’s life flight helicopter could be heard arriving from the west, all activities ceased as the emergency rotorcraft approached the park where it landed a short distance from emergency vehicles from the City of Washington. As the rotors slowed on the helicopter, speakers were able to resume the program.
Musicians and singers gave the program an uplifting feeling. Bagpiper Scout Adams played “Amazing Grace” and Illinois State Police trumpeter Nicholas Spizzirri played “Taps” as the 9/11 memorial was coming to its end, capped by a dove release by Washington Scouts and Tom Lee of Artistic Flowers and 20 memorial strikes of a bell.
A closing prayer by Pastor Jane, singing of “American the Beautiful” by WCHS Chamber Choir, and closing comments by Mayor Manier gave those who attended the event the knowledge that those who provided the memorial planned by Tom Berlett and his committee gave 100% regarding honoring first responders.
The 9/11 Washington Memorial Committee included Tom Berlett, Mike Brownfield, John Riopell, Beth Cissulo, Brett Adams, Daniel Cobb and Brad Marshall.