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Buffalo remembers 9/11 attacks, 16 years later

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park

Ceremonies were hosted throughout the United States Monday morning, 16 years after the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Remembrances held in Buffalo included one held within the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.

The service at the waterfront park included a solemn placement of a wreath in front of a memorial, a salute by the Buffalo Fire Department's Edward M. Cotter fireboat and the ringing of a bell at the minutes planesstruck the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

On that fateful day, terrorists hijacked passenger jets and steered them into those building. A fourth would-be attack, United Flight 93, was thwarted when passengers overpowered the hijackers and forced the plane into a Pennsylvania field.

For those in attendance, the memories of where they were as events unfolded remain clear. But 16 years later, some find a need to explain "9/11" to those who were not born yet.

"It's hard to put that horrific experience that we all went through into words, as I'm trying to educate my children," said State Senator Tim Kennedy, one of several elected officials in attendance. "My now six-year-old boy is wondering what 9/11 is."

Don Alessi, chairman of the military park, stressed during his remarks the importance of not giving in to hate following the attack, and not blaming an entire geographic region nor an entire religious faith for the deeds of a few.

Following the ceremony, Alessi was asked if he felt American have come to understand that. He answered that while it seemed to be going in that direction, he's not as sure in more recent times.

"I only hope and pray that those distinctions will continue to be made," he said. "That is the best hope for our nation, because the United States is a nation of inclusion. We should not be separating people from geographic areas, or people from religious faiths, from our shores."

Alessi says the biggest lesson he took away from the 9/11 attacks was the realization that in spite of American humanitarian efforts overseas and the nation's willingness to welcome those seeking a better way of life, there are those who wish to destroy it.

Another remembrance taking place in Buffalo Monday was at Delaware Park. From sunrise until sundown, volunteers were taking turns carrying a U.S. flag around the ring road of the park in memory of those lost on September 11, 2001.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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