Community gathers for 9/11 memorial service
Community members gathered on Sunday evening inside the First United Methodist Church hall in St. Marys for the "Community 9-11 Memorial Service." The event was hosted by the St. Marys Area Ministerial Association to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11. The service began at 6 p.m. with an introduction and opening prayer by Chris Kindle, pastor of the First United Methodist Church, followed by the singing of the national anthem by Alexis Cunningham.Each attendee received a small booklet entitled, "Never Forget Hope."Scott Wiest, pastor of Shiloh Presbyterian Church, recognized all members of service organizations in attendance, including those from the Crystal Fire Department, City of St. Marys Police Department and the St. Marys Area Ambulance Service. Members from each group introduced themselves and the organization they were representing. Brad Brunner of the Faith Baptist Church introduced a film shown during the service entitled "The Cross and The Towers," a story of hope in the midst of devastation which follows the journey of seven individuals whose lives were changed forever on Sept. 11.Featured in the film were Lee Ielpi, retired member of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), who served for over 27 years and had two sons serving in the fire department, one of whom was lost that day. The film followed his heart-wrenching search to find his son's body, which was discovered in early December 2011. Also featured were Bob Appleby, Ground Zero chaplain from Connecticut and retired U.S. Marine who helped dig through debris with the firemen and perform several funerals onsite whenever a body was discovered; Debra Burlingame, sister of Flight 77 pilot Charles Burlingame, whose plane crashed into the Pentagon; and Frank Silecchia, construction worker from Queens who worked on the massive debris pile and found the location he named "God's House," where four large steel crosses were discovered.Another story told in the film was that of Mike Martelli, retired member of the New York Police Department (NYPD), who rushed to the scene with his brother to find out their close friend Father Mike Judge was the first victim of that day. Martelli continued to volunteer working in the morgue for nearly a year. John Picarello of the FDNY was assigned to the North Tower's 75th floor, which he never reached due to the collapse of the South Tower, effectively trapping his unit. When he emerged, he found the North Tower collapsing around his unit. He cheated death twice and managed to survive the horrific events of that day, but 24 of his friends did not. Also participating in the service was the Rev. Mary Norton of St. Agnes in St. Marys and Grace Episcopal Church in Ridgway.