ELKTON — Fresh out of college, Clairen Sipe was substitute teaching at McGaheysville Elementary School as planes crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
The attacks killed almost 3,000 people, including many firefighters, police officers and rescue crew members.
She says she remembers taking the children out on the playground. She was constantly looking up in the sky as planes flew above.
“I had a very solemn feeling … almost a helpless feeling,” said Sipe, who now serves as the treasurer for the town of Elkton.
Today, at 11 a.m., the town will hold a 9/11 Remembrance Service at Stonewall Memorial Park on Terrace Avenue.
The park is home to the town’s First Responders Memorial, which was unveiled in 2010. It includes an I-beam that came from the World Trade Center. The beam is supported by two metal cylinders reminiscent of the Twin Towers that fell that day.
The entire structure is surrounded by an octagon shape, which, while not a pentagon, evokes images of the Department of Defense building of the same name, which was also attacked on 9/11.
Organizers designed the memorial with the intentions to honor both the rescue personnel that responded to the attacks and local rescue crews who serve the community day in and day out.
While many towns across the country have stopped 9/11 ceremonies, Sipe said Elkton continues to pay tribute.
“It’s important to continue to remember what our country went through and how far we’ve come,” she said. “We need to remember the victims and first responders.”
During the ceremony, students from Elkton Elementary School will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
“They’re learning about it in their history books,” she said. “It’s important that the young children learn about what the country suffered during that time.”
Delores Hammer, the town’s director of community development, was working as a real estate agent for Century 21 when the attacks happened.
“Your first instinct was fear,” she said. “Then, you worry and then you become angry that something like that can happen on your soil.”
She plans to attend today’s ceremony.
“It’s a very important part of our history that shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said, adding that the ceremony also honors today’s first responders. “We need to let them know that we appreciate that they put their lives on the line every day for us.”