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A Patriot Parade held Saturday, Sept. 11, was a somber memorial to the memory of the people who were lost on Sept. 11, 2001 in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and over Pennsylvania.

And it was an important memorial, said both organizers and attendees, because today’s youth don’t know what happened that day.

Sponsored by the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Preston Elks, the parade began at City Hall in Preston at 1 p.m. and followed by a memorial program and an Elks sponsored luncheon. The Boy Scouts of America and several local merchants set up booths in the park, as well.

“The parade was phenomenal, so heartfelt. I can’t thank enough the firemen, national guard, all the first responders, veterans and police for being part of it. It was extremely touching when all the firemen came up one by one and hugged me (after the program),” said NcNeely.

“The disappointment was that I didn’t get the millennials out there, the ones I wanted to educate on what happened. We had so much education in there (footage of the boat rescue that brought people off Manhattan Island, phots of the attacks, information on local veterans), and I was disappointed I didn’t get that kind of a crowd. I am hoping next year I can.”

“Hopefully, next year, this parade will be on Main Street and be three times bigger,” she said.

Pastor Jim Mitchell, of the Grace Fellowship church in Preston, expressed several thoughts, as did Nadine Palumbo, a sister of McNeely and a resident of New York, whose husband is a firefighter who helped rescue survivors of the attack.

“In the days after the attacks, we saw a return to religion,” said Pastor Mitchell The importance of that, he said, is that Americans must stop relying on themselves, and start relying on Jesus. “He is our last best hope,” he said. That hope lies in the fact that “He is not only a god of peace, but a god of justice.”

For that reason, Pastor Mitchell suggested that instead wondering which side of a conflict God is on, one should ask him or herself, “Am I on God’s side?”

Palumbo recalled the exhausting days her husband never made it home from where the World Trade Centers once stood as he helped with rescue efforts.

The attacks, she said, “were an attack on our nation and our beliefs,” she said. (See www.prestoncitizen.com for both Pastor Mitchell and Palumbo’s full speeches.)

Veteran Kasey Roberts was on hand, showing videos related to the attacks.

“I thought it was really nice. It was nice to be able to applaud firemen and policemen and soldiers. I thought it was great ... just remembering 9/11 and the people who perished and the people who helped. We just need more veterans next year,” said Susan Anderson who attended the program.

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