The skies over Malvern were a clear blue on Monday morning, Sept. 19, evoking memories of a decade ago, when the blue skies over New York City turned black with smoke following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For Malvern Prep students, the morning of Sept. 19, 2011 was one of remembrance, as these young men who were boys between the ages of 4 and 8 on 9/11 took part in an annual memorial service organized by Rev. Dr. Joseph Oechsle, math teacher and member of the Norriton Volunteer Fire Company.
The format of the service was a firefighter’s funeral, complete with an enormous American flag - the flag of heroes – suspended in front of the Duffy Arts Center from ladder trucks provided by the Norriton Fire Company and the Malvern Fire Company. The huge flag left Malvern students awestruck, as did the words from several guest speakers who shared their memories of Ground Zero.
“At Malvern, we remember 9/11 because we desire to learn about the leadership of service shown by the first responders of the City of New York,” Dr. Oechsle said. Ceremonies began with a reading of the names of the 343 members of FDNY who lost their lives on 9/11, as a video showed scenes of firefighters and rescue personnel working inside the North Tower. John DeMarco, police chief of Upper Uwchlan Township and a volunteer firefighter, spoke of traveling to New York City shortly after the attacks, to help with the rescue mission. “As we went deeper and deeper into the pile of debris we found only victims, but no survivors,” he said, the emotion in his voice sharing the pain of the experience. “People always ask me what I did at the World Trade Center. But the real question is what did the World Trade Center do to me?”
Father Michael Duffy OFM, spoke about his friend and colleague Father Mychal Judge, Chaplain
of FDNY and the man listed as the first certified fatality of the attacks. Father Duffy spoke of the leadership displayed by Father Judge on 9/11. Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit, Father Judge rushed to the site. He administered the Last Rites to some lying on the streets, and then entered the lobby of the North Tower, where he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and dead. When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge. “Mychal Judge was with the people he loved, doing what he loved most,” Father Duffy said. “As Victim No. 1, I picture him stationed at the gates of Heaven, greeting all of the victims of that day and welcoming them to the afterlife.”
Services concluded as Dr. Oechsle, on behalf of the Norriton Fire Company, presented a check for $10,000 to Kenneth Boller, President of Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, to continue a Scholarship Fund at Fordham Prep for sons and relatives of the 343 members of FDNY who lost their lives on 9/11. He also presented a check for $1000 to Malvern Prep to benefit the school’s Christian Service Program.
to view video of the flag being raised, and here
to view a portion of the memorial service.