A fire chief said he wanted to ask not where people were Sept. 11, 2001, but what lessons they had learned.
Chief Bill Ennis of Tiffin Fire and Rescue Division, who spoke during the city of Tiffin's Patriot Day ceremony at Columbian High School Sunday evening, said New York Fire Department uses the words "never forget" to remember, be vigilant and be prepared.
"We have to learn there are no non-combatants in this world anymore. We must be alert and vigilant. ... We must teach our children or grandchildren tolerance," he said.
Chief Dave LaGrange of Tiffin Police Department said there is going to be another attack, disaster or event that is going to claim lives, but there always are people who are willing to run toward danger when common sense says to go the other way.
Jim Roberts, adjutant of United Veterans Council of Seneca County, said as a nation, people have hope, and hitting bumps makes them stronger.
"We're firm as a nation," he said.
Roberts said his first emotion after the attacks was one of anger. He said he thinks of the terrorists as cowards and doesn't want to look at their pictures anymore.
"The time for anger, the time for hate, is over," he said.
At the conclusion of Sunday's ceremony, people got to look at and touch a beam from the World Trade Center. Chris Hafley, firefighter/paramedic with Tiffin Fire and Rescue Division, helped arrange the beam's arrival in Tiffin.
Tiffin has one of 1,200 pieces, and Hafley said he thinks the department has one of the largest in Ohio. The hollow steel beam is more than 17 feet long and 18 inches wide and weighs more than 6,000 pounds.
"It's actually fairly straight; it's banged up and everything. ... (We) didn't know what we were getting," Hafley said.
Hafley said firefighters can't identify which tower the beam was in, although an official from National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has investigated why the World Trade Center collapsed, speculates it is from the upper third of one of the towers and believes it was one of the center columns.
The process to obtain the beam started several months ago.
Hafley had heard of another fire department obtaining a beam and asked how to do it.
He contacted The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and learned the program was winding down.
He sent a letter about Tiffin Fire and Rescue Division being interested in obtaining a beam May 23 and later sent an application. About a month after sending the letter, he received an e-mail learning the department had been approved.
Hafley, Capt. Matt Palmer, firefighter/paramedic Gary Amlin and Mark Wagner, who recently retired as a firefighter, made the trip with Wagner's trailer and Palmer's truck to New York Aug. 23.
They arrived in New York the night before they were scheduled to pick up the beam and took the subway to Ground Zero that evening.
The fire personnel also paid a visit to a fire station they made a connection with 10 years ago.
In 2001, Seagrave Fire Apparatus put a mural on the sides of a ladder fire truck, and Tiffin was the halfway point of the trip to take the truck to New York. Tiffin's No. 2 fire station housed vehicles overnight on their trek to New York.
When the Tiffin firefighters made the trip to New York last month, they stopped at the fire station and got to see the ladder truck they hadn't seen in a decade.
They picked up the beam that now is in Tiffin at a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport Aug. 24. The men, wearing uniforms, loaded the beam onto the trailer and secured one of their helmets on the top of the beam for the return trip.
"We draped (the beam) with the American flag," Hafley said.
Handy Grafix in Tiffin donated a sign to put on each side of the trailer, letting people know it was a World Trade Center steel artifact making its way from New York City to Tiffin's fire department and giving the date of the terrorist attacks.
Hafley said the trip was moving at times. The team met a woman whose son had died in the World Trade Center, and people wanted to know what they were doing with the beam. They told the onlookers they were taking it to Ohio for a memorial in the community.
"(They) thought that was fantastic," he said.
Hafley said his goal now is to let people look at the beam and reflect. The beam is to be pulled in Saturday's Tiffin Seneca Heritage Festival parade and be on display at the Monroe Street fire department during the festival.
A committee is to be formed to decide how to use it for a permanent memorial, how to fund it and where to put it. Hafley said he would love to have the memorial installed a year from now.