Lancaster County honors Patriot Day with remembrance ceremony

EAST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. --- On Tuesday, September 11, first responders and county officials gathered at the Public Safety Training Center to honor Patriot Day.

On September 11, 2001, 2,977 people were killed when four airplanes, hijacked by terrorists, struck the World Trade Center buildings in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C, and United Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after people on-board fought back against the hijackers.

Of those who lost their lives, 23 people were of the New York City Police Department, 37 people were of Port Authority Police and 343 people were New York City firefighters.

It's a day Jim Murphy never forgets.

The Mount Joy resident and retired New York City Firefighter remembers it being a work day unlike any other.

"My wife beeped my friend...I called her up. She says "You've been recalled." All police department, fire department, EMTs report to work. In 23 years, I'd never been recalled. Recalled is report to work immediately, no matter what your status, go to work," said Murphy.

He was first notified while painting a house with fellow firefighters.

After the call, he says he and his friend got dressed up and went to ground zero.

"That morning in Long Island was chaos. People were driving on the sidewalks, rushing to pick up their kids from school. All roads to Manhattan were closed except for badged personnel. Police were at the entrances, we had to show our badge that we were going down. I stopped at my house to see my family, they weren't home at the time. I turned on a TV and like everybody else...I couldn't believe what I saw," said Murphy.

He says he was redirected from Shea Stadium, former home field of the New York Mets, to his fire station where he says they waited for quite a while.

He said there, they watched President George W. Bush brief the country on what had happened.

He was on vacation leave when the attacks happened, and was told to remain on leave "until further notice."

"If you're on full duty...schedules were twelve hours on, twelve hours off. I had never seen that before. Around 2 a.m, I drove home. My head was spinning out of control, from one of the worst days in American history," said Murphy.

He says September 12, 2001 was an equally "bad day."

"During the day I received calls from my friends wives. "Murph, he did not come home last night." "Murph, he isn't home yet, no calls, what do I do?" What can I possibly tell them? I fell apart. My wife walked in on me sitting in the kitchen on the floor in tears," said Murphy.

He said he was eventually called and asked if he'd come off vacation, which he accepted.

He said he requested to respond to ground zero, which was granted.

The days ahead were grueling.

"Countless funerals. I wore my dress uniform just about every day...Wore it while at work. We were at funerals while we were working. In Rockaway Queens, in my immediate firehouse response area, 80 persons had died. Civilians and firemen. Flags were draped from ladders to ladders...My church, alone, over 80 people died," said Murphy.

“There are many stories from that day. But one that stands out for me…is a fireman, a retired firefighter I knew…his son worked at the World Trade Center. He had no choice but to climb to the roof. He called his father from the roof…asking what he should do. His father already knew what they were already doing….they were saying goodbye,” Murphy said.

He said he shares his memories of the work around him on 9/11 with others, including speeches at local schools, to ensure it will never been forgotten.

“It’s a day of remembrance. It's a day of us recognizing those who gave their lives and the victims and we have to remember that every time this time of the year,” said Murphy.

As part of the Ceremony, the 47 first responders who have died in Lancaster County in the line of duty were honored for their sacrifice.

“It’s our duty to honor them, to say their names, to remember them for the community, and to not let their memory be forgotten. That’s what we can do for them,” said Joshua Parsons, Lancaster County commission chairman.

They are:

  • Jeremiah Reitzel, firefighter, Sun Fire Company-Lancaster City, November 19, 1870
  • Davis Kitch, Engineer, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, December 20, 1893
  • Edward Demora, firefighter, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, May 24, 1906
  • Stanley W. Christ, Private, Pennsylvania State Police, December 1, 1919
  • Harry S. Hartman, Chief of Police, Columbia Borough Police Department, April 4, 1923
  • Ben McEvoy, Corporal, Pennsylvania State Police, September 21, 1923
  • Elwood Gainer, Lieutenant, Lancaster Bureau of Police, March 28, 1927
  • Issac C. Dunn, firefighter, Ephrata Pioneer Steam Fire Engine Company, July 18, 1927
  • John Hostetter, firefighter, Salisbury Township Fire Company No. 1, July 16, 1932
  • Martin Baldwin, firefighter, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, January 14, 1934
  • Chester Arthur Coen, firefighter, Friendship Fire Company-Mount Joy, July 10, 1936
  • Abner Hull, Constable, Pennsylvania State Constable, July 16, 1936
  • Burnell Imhoff, Chief of Police, New Holland Borough Police Department, June 7, 1939
  • M. Richard Supplee, firefighter, Intercourse Fire Company, April 17, 1942
  • C. Roy Wiebush, Captain, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, June 12, 1946
  • John W. Hendricks, firefighter, Friendship Fire Company-Mount Joy, August 1, 1951
  • Walter R. Bucks, firefighter, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, February 14, 1952
  • Cleve Yoder, Captain, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, March 30, 1954
  • Walter F. Sherts, firefighter, West Lancaster Fire Company, October 27, 1956
  • Harry Myers, Lieutenant, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, April 24, 1960
  • Marvin R. Foltz, Chief of Police, East Donegal Township Police Department, April 7, 1967
  • William H. Snyder, firefighter, Ephrata Pioneer Steam Fire Engine Company, May 9, 1968
  • Dennis Hackman, firefighter, Willow Street Fire Company, June 22, 1972
  • Harry E. Sides, firefighter, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, September 20, 1972
  • Michael Richard Sagner, Patrol Officer, East Earl Township Police Department, October 7, 1972
  • Robert D. Lapp, Jr, Trooper, Pennsylvania State Police, October 16, 1972
  • Richard D. Lobson, firefighter, Smokestown Fire Company, April 21, 1979
  • Jeffery Jones, firefighter, Bausman Fire Company, June 13, 1981
  • Bruce Ditlow, paramedic, St. Joseph's Hospital Medic 1, June 13, 1981
  • Kevin Weatherlow, paramedic, St. Joseph's Hospital Medic 1, June 13, 1981
  • Gordon D. Stark, Sr, Fire Chief, Pequea Fire Company, August 12, 1981
  • G. Michael Crouse, firefighter, Reinholds Fire Company, March 29, 1982
  • Delbert R. Flowers, Jr, Sergeant, Manheim Borough Police Department, November 9, 1984
  • Paul Almer, Corporal, Pennsylvania State Police, April 12, 1989
  • Wayne Bilheimer, Trooper, Pennsylvania State Police, April 12, 1989
  • J. Brian Harnly, Engineer, Eden Fire Company No. 1, May 19, 1989
  • Thomas W. Wohlfeil, Sr, Constable, Pennsylvania State Constable, November 24, 1989
  • Fred Garber, firefighter, New Danville Fire Company, July 20, 1990
  • Ethel Speros, Emergency Medical Technician, Willow Street Ambulance, March 15, 1991
  • Thomas J. Horvath, firefighter, Lancaster Bureau of Fire, June 16, 1992
  • Douglas A. Shertzer, Sr, Chief of Police, Lititz Borough Police Department, May 11, 2004
  • David A Sauder, Emergency Medical Technician, Leola Ambulance Association, February 16, 2007
  • John G. Lawrence, firefighter, Bart Township Fire Company, March 7, 2009
  • Keith G. Rankin, Lieutenant, Lancaster Township Fire Department, September 25, 2011
  • Edward Steffy, firefighter, Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company, November 10, 2011
  • Steven C. Henry, Sr, Captain, Columbia Consolidated Fire Company, September 6, 2012
  • Christi Marie Rodgers, firefighter, Robert Fulton Fire Company, October 24, 2014.