Congressman: 'True spirit' of America emerged in aftermath of attacks

September 14, 2020
In The News

NORTHUMBERLAND — The true spirit of America showed its face in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks 19 years ago, according to U.S. Rep. Fred Keller.

The Republican congressman of the 12th congressional district of Pennsylvania was the keynote speaker at the Northumberland Borough's annual "We Will Remember" 9/11 memorial ceremony. Keller told nearly 100 people of something "truly remarkable" that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, and the days that followed.

"In all of the chaos and sadness, something truly remarkable happened, the silver lining in the face of evil," said Keller at the gazebo in King St. Park on Friday. "Americans found common ground in their love for the United States of America. We stood together as one nation under God ready to fight back."

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people in New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The event in Northumberland was run by American Legion Post 44, in conjunction with Northumberland Borough.

"Nineteen years ago the world stood still," said Keller. "Millions watched in awe as horrific scenes of destruction and death in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and Shanksville unfolded."

Keller said he took a picture of the Twin Towers in 2000, a picture that now hangs on the wall of his office in Washington, D.C.

"It serves as a daily reminder of all who lost their lives during the attacks, and all of the American heroes who answered the call to protect our freedom and the American way of life," said Keller. "Like so many Americans, that day is scarred into my mind clearly as if it were yesterday."

The first who fought back were the passengers of Flight 93. Firefighters and first responders ran toward the carnage. Men and women in uniform left their families to go fight terrorism, said Keller.

"They tried to break us with fear and extinguish our God-given freedoms," he said. "Instead they unleashed the full might of the American spirit."

Northumberland Mayor Dan Berard reminded the crowd that the event was not a celebratory one.

"This is not a celebration tonight, it's a remembrance of a terrible day in our history 19 years ago," said Berard. "A lot of people lost their lives on that day."

Those who lost their lives on 9/11, as well as local police, firefighters, paramedics, first responders and fire police, are all heroes, he said.

Richard and Peg Erdley, of Montandon, traveled to the borough to be in attendance for the ceremony. Richard Erdley is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1964 to 1966.

"It was very inspiring," Erdley said of the ceremony. "The congressman did an excellent job."