MARYSVILLE, Wash/. September 13, 2022—Marysville residents, city staff, and first responders gathered Sunday to remember the September 11 terrorist attacks and the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that tragic day. Among those perished were 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, and Marysville Fire’s own Lieutenant Jeff Thornton, who died after a valiantly fought battle with cancer that same day.
“It’s really right and fitting that we gather today to honor the public servants who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and in somber remembrance of all those victims who perished on September 11, 2021,” Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said. “It’s hard to believe but it was 21 years ago that our lives, as Americans, were forever changed by the violent terrorist attacks on our country that occurred that day.”
On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airlines and deliberately crashed the first two planes into the World Trade Center complex in New York City. The first tower was struck at 8:46 a.m., the second tower was hit 17 minutes later, and, shortly after, at 9:37 a.m., a third plane crashed into the Pentagon Building in Arlington, Virginia.
At 10:03 a.m. the fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, 20 miles away from Washington D.C. After learning about the previous attacks, passengers on this plane decided to fight back. By doing this, they undoubtedly saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives, from that plane’s intended target.
More than 25,000 people were left injured from these attacks, among them nearly 1,000 were diagnosed with cancer from toxic exposure at Ground Zero.
At the time the towers were struck there were an estimated 16,000 to 18,000 people in the towers and it took over 10 hours for first responders to evacuate them, which just goes to show, Mayor Nehring said Sunday, the “critical nature of these jobs, that these personnel do, our first responders, every day.”
“They were heroes who made that ultimate sacrifice, in the service of others, as they ran into those buildings as everyone else was desperately trying to get out,” Mayor Nehring said.
Before Mayor Nehring took the podium Sunday, Chaplain Dan Hazen, led the crowd through a prayer and commemorated the City’s new Civic Center, which opened this year. The Civic Center was the chosen site of Sunday’s ceremony as it is also the new home of the Police and Fire Fighters Memorial, formerly located at the Marysville Library.
Police, Jail and Municipal Court moved into the north end of the building this summer and City Hall, City Council chamber, Community Development and Public Works Engineering offices will move into the south end this fall.
“Memories occur in a context. They bloom like a welcome flower or an unwelcome weed in the soil of the present moment. And the present is always changing. We find ourselves, in this moment, remembering here, in a new place that wasn’t even imagined 21 years ago. We have new challenges and new opportunities in this moment which affect our memories of September 11, 2021,” Hazen said.
September 11, 2001 also has a special meaning in the City of Marysville as it was the day Marysville Fire’s own Lieutenant Jeff Thornton lost his battle with cancer. Thornton, know by many as “Fireman Jeff”, was an 18-year veteran with Marysville Fire, a father, husband, and lifelong baseball player.
A baseball injury ultimately led to the discovery of cancer in Thornton’s leg in December 2000 but at that time it was too late – the cancer had spread to his bones and blood.
Thornton sought homeopathic treatment in Mexico, August 2001, and was being moved to a facility outside San Diego September 10, in critical condition. When Thornton’s father, Jerry Thornton Sr., arrived at Sea-Tac International Airport first thing the next morning to see him he heard about the first plan hitting the World Trade Center.
“Jeff continues to, and will always, hold a very special place in our hearts here in Marysville,” Mayor Nehring said. “We treasure our special bond with the family of Lieutenant Thornton, who have attended this ceremony and visited us for over two decades…we salute all of you in the Thornton family and it’s such an honor that you choose to make the trek up here to be with us today.”