On September 11, 2023, the Talbot County community gathered to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001 in Easton, Maryland. The ceremony began slightly later than the scheduled 8:30 a.m. start time due to a brief, but sudden downpour.
Talbot County Government has held the ceremony almost every year since 2001, to continue to remember and honor the lives that were lost on 9/11/2001 and to recognize the service of first responders that day. Susan Moran, Clerk for the County Council, coordinates the event. This year’s event was co-hosted with the Town of Easton and Easton Economic Development Corporation.
Despite drenched chairs and audio equipment, event organizers persevered. The event started only a few minutes late, with a large crowd of residents, community leaders, elected officials, emergency service and public safety representatives present.
After the Easton Middle School band played their rendition of “America, the Beautiful”, Talbot County Council President Chuck Callahan opened the ceremony, welcoming everyone to the event.
“It is especially important and meaningful to have our younger residents with us to participate in today’s ceremony, and remember the events of September 11, 2001,” he mentioned. “While the events of September 11, 2001 were devastating, the heroic acts of bravery by our first responders will never be forgotten and will continue to inspire.”
In her remarks, Easton Mayor Megan Cook noted, “Never forget the strength of our community. Never forget all that we have accomplished, and will accomplish by working together. Never forget that everyday our lives are in each other’s hands, and never forget that when the chips are down, our humanity shines brightest.”
Local law enforcement representatives presented the flags before Dr. Sharon Pepukayi, Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools, led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Gail Aveson singing the “Star Spangled Banner”.
In the Invocation, Rev. James G. Pugh, of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, asked the audience to continue to remember the events of 9/11, not only the “the dust and smoke, despair and grief” but the “God of hope and presence…the heroes that rushed to help, who guided the wounded down innumerable flights of stairs, who rose to overwhelm those who brought death to innocent lives…”
Following a moment of silence and tolling of the bells, Deena Kilmon, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Easton Economic Development Corporation, introduced the Keynote Speaker, County Council Vice President, Pete Lesher.
Lesher challenged the audience to think about how Talbot County has become resilient in the face of crisis during even more recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic. He echoed earlier remarks, emphasizing strength in our community.
“We look back to those days after September 11, 2001, remembering how we came together as one. How we—as a community, support our community…We have risen to the challenge when we have heard the call in the past, and we will most assuredly have to do so again sometime in the future. And when we face that outside challenge, we will remember that, after all, we are truly one. We are a community that supports our community.”
Joe Gamble, Talbot County Sheriff, Alan Lowrey, Easton Chief of Police, and Rick Stacey, President of Easton Volunteer Fire Department, provided the presentation of the memorial wreath.
Additional music included a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America” by Talbot County Sheriff’s Deputy John Coleman, “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes by Sean Guschke, member of the St. Michaels Volunteer Fire Department, and “Of Thee I Sing America” by Thalia Turner, St. Michaels Middle-High School student, Rev. Demetrius A. Price of Union Baptist Church in Easton, offered the Benediction to close out the ceremony.
Following the ceremony, attendees gathered in the Talbot County Free Library, Easton Branch, for refreshments and the unveiling of the year-long community art project and the “We Are #TalbotReady” short film.