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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • 9/11: 12 years later

  • Today marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, on Sept. 11, 2001.
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  • -Today marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, on Sept. 11, 2001.
    Some local veterans shared their thoughts on how that day affected them, the United States and where we are now as a country.
    "It was no longer a foreign war, but a war on our own territory," said Phil Sheehan, Junior Vice Commander of VFW Post 531 in Honesdale. "It was a higher death toll than Pearl Harbor. It was a wake up call."
    He added that we "should not" be sending more than one person from a family on deployment at once, "especially a husband and wife."
    "We should have never gotten rid of the draft," said Frank Powll, a life member of VFW Post 531. "There are so little to protect so many and they [the government] want to cut the military."
    As an example he explained that there are "only 370,000" members in our standard Army and that the federal government wants to cut the Marine Corps. from 212,000 "to 182,000."
    "We should reinstate the draft," Powll said.
    He said that currently one third of our Navy ships are in port and one third of the Air Force is grounded. Powll also added that the Army and Marine Corps have "no ammunition" to train.
    "People better wake up and smell the coffee," Powll said. "The military is the first place they want to cut and there's not much to cut to begin with. Now they're just cutting the bone."
    He also strongly feels that the United States should nuke the Middle East.
    "They want a war so let's show them a war," Powll stated. "They respect strength. Let's show them ultimate strength. We've already lost too many American lives already. Other countries look at us like we're a joke. If you're not going to fight to win then you shouldn't fight at all."
    He added that Sept. 11, 2001 was a wake up call to America that "didn't last long."
    Ken Swan, who is a Past Commander of the Waymart American Legion Post 889 and Chaplain for VFW Post 531, had two sons who worked at Wall Street and "literally ran" for their lives after "all hell broke loose."
    "I had another son who took his truck, loaded it up with supplies and was brought to Ground Zero," he said. "He did what he felt he needed to do."
    "I was working at the Tobyhanna Army Depot when I heard about what happened," said George Schaffer, Commander of American Legion Post 889. "It was a crushing day for all of us at work."
    Mike O'Hara, Adjunant and Past Commander of VFW Post 531, said that tragic day "made people slow down."
    Page 2 of 3 - "They started to become more aware of what was going on around them," he said. "They started to realize someone can hurt the United States. This is just my opinion, but I feel it elevated the mission response of the National Guard and it became a higher priority."
    He was stationed in Bosnia in 2002-2003 for peacekeeping stabilization.
    "I remember telling my men that this was a test to see how fast we can prepare and how quick we could train for something bigger down the road," O'Hara said.
    That bigger event would later be the war in Iraq.
    "I wasn't in a hostile situation and didn't deal with a lot of the things other soldiers did," he stated. "I saw the aftermath of it."
    "We never should have gone to Iraq or any country in the Middle East," said Sheehan. "We keep giving these countries money and they hate us. We need to help out our own debt."
    "Terrorism is meant to scare you to change your life," O'Hara stated. "That's exactly what they attempted to do that day."
    The others agreed with Sheehan about Iraq and also stated that the United States "shouldn't attack" Syria either.
    "We can't be the world's police anymore," said Powll.
    "When our country has problems where are the others helping us?" asked Sheehan.
    Powll added that if we started to use our own resources, "within two to four years" we would be energy independent.
    "We have more resources than the Arabs and if we used ours, we wouldn't need theirs."
    The veterans also agreed that Sept. 11, 2001 brought back other memories as well.
    "It brought a lot of trauma to those who forgot what war was like," said Sheehan. "Some may not have realized they had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and they were given different flashbacks. It was a big trigger."
    Another topic they touched base on was security.
    "If something happened in Wayne County you would all be safe," said Powll. "There are over 3,000 veterans still living here."
    "We can never have enough security," said Sheehan.
    "You can never go lax on security," said O'Hara. "Everyone doesn't know all that's going on. It's time to buckle up. Strip searches should be done if they are really needed."
    "We need to separate feel good from effective," stated Swan "There's too much feel good right now and that's not a good thing."
    He added that strip searches are "too far," but emphasizes that checks should still be done, though in a "smart way."
    There will be a ceremony in front of the 9/11 Memorial, located by the Wayne County Courthouse, at 9 a.m. The VFW Post 531 will also have one at 6 p.m.
    Page 3 of 3 - On Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. there will be a ceremony for POW/MIA Recognition Day at the monument in Central Park.
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