Registered nurse Mary Shane and her husband, retired New York City Fire Department paramedic David Shane, who was at Ground Zero at the World Trades Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and for months thereafter, were recognized at York County 9/11 ceremonies Saturday. Tammy Wells Photo

ALFRED — New York City Fire Department paramedic David Shane was not far from the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, taking a refresher course along with his fellow paramedics.

An aircraft struck the north tower at 8:46 a.m. that day. It was a deliberate act.

An honor guard lowers the American flag, signalling the beginning of 9/11 ceremonies, on the lawn at York County Court House in Alfred on Saturday. Tammy Wells Photo

“They grabbed all the supplies they could, got into an ambulance and drove to the scene,” said Jeffrey Pelkey, pastor at North Berwick Congregational Church and chaplain at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Police Department. “To the scene,” Pelkey emphasized.

The squad arrived 6 minutes before the second aircraft struck the south tower.

People on the ground could feel the thrust of the engines as the airplane was positioned to strike, Pelkey said.

David Shane, now retired, and his wife Mary were very special guests Saturday as York County Sheriff’s Office and York County government marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon, and in a farm field in rural Pennsylvania. In all, 2,996 people lost their lives that day 20 years ago,  and many more were injured.

The ceremony Saturday morning on the lawn of York County Court House in Alfred, the county seat, was a solemn occasion. An honor guard lowered the U.S. flag to half-staff. Violinist Emily Grondin played patriotic and other tunes that spoke to America. Elias Thomas sang the National Anthem.

York County Jail Administrator Nathan Thayer placed a wreath during county ceremonies, held on the lawn at York County Court House on Saturday. Tammy Wells Photo

David and Mary Shane sat in the audience, hands clasped, as Pelkey talked a bit about that day and their experiences.

Mary Shane had her own role then, and in the days to follow as an emergency department nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. And for three days after the attacks, she did not know if David was alive. He was on the list of the missing or possibly dead, said Pelkey. On that third day, she learned he  was among the survivors. David Shane continued to work, searching the rubble “not for days or weeks, but for eight months, day in and day out,” said Pelkey. “What (the searchers) saw shouldn’t be seen by any human eyes.”

York County Sheriff William L. King spoke to about hope, resilience and unity that lifted the country in the aftermath of the attacks.

“Twenty years later, these lessons are more important than ever. The 9/11 attack spawned a new wave of patriotism and love of our country,” said King to those assembled. “That devastating act knocked us down but did not knock us out. We came back stronger than ever, and we have shown the world that we are a beacon of healing, renewal, and strength. We continue to commemorate this day to comfort each other, to strengthen our resolve to keep our homeland safe and to honor those who were killed in this cowardly act.”

Members of Girl Scout Troop #795 of South Berwick assisted Chief Deputy Jeremy Forbes in tolling the courthouse bell.

A number of people took part in York County ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001 on Saturday, and paused for a photo on the steps of York County Court House in Alfred. Courtesy Photo/York County government

York County Commissioner Donna Ring read “Meet Me in the Stairwell,” a poem by Stacey Randall that talks about the presence of God.

York County Manager Greg Zinser read “What a Difference A Day Makes.”

“On Monday we had families … on Tuesday we had orphans,” he read, in part. “On Monday people went to work as usual … on Tuesday they died. It is sadly ironic how it takes horrific events to place things into perspective, but it has. The lessons learned … the things we have taken for granted, the things that have been forgotten or overlooked, hopefully will never be forgotten again.”

York County Jail Administrator Nathan Thayer delivered a memorial wreath, and attendees from the wider York County community bent to place carnations of red, white, and blue on the ground beneath.

Many families were shaken to the core that day, said Pelkey, and many remember it like it was yesterday.

“Coming together makes us stronger,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.