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Rain does not deter Shelby’s 9/11 ceremony

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 12, 2015


Despite a steady downpour, dozens of people turned out for Shelby Township’s 9/11 memorial ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11.

The event included speeches by Shelby Township Veterans Coordinator Phil Randazzo, Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide and Shelby Township Fire Lt. Inspector Brian Werner, as well as a performance of “God Bless America” by a local singer.

The first matter of business was for the Shelby Township Police Department’s Honor Guard to lay a red, white and blue wreath near the township’s Veterans Memorial with a ribbon that said “9-11 Let Us Never Forget.”

Randazzo provided the ceremony’s introduction, saying that the tragedy 14 years ago is ongoing.

“It’s still a thorn in our sides,” Randazzo said. “On that day, we had the biggest loss of casualties, and I’m talking as a military combat veteran, in our fire departments, our police departments, our EMS departments and the coast guards off the bays, and we’re here to salute them.”

He pointed out the Shelby Township fire and police personnel who had gathered beneath stormy skies and called them a strong force.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Randazzo said, he was at McDonald’s getting a cup of coffee when he heard that the first plane had struck the twin towers in New York City. He said he raced home, turned on the TV and watched the second plane crash into the building in real time.

“I felt angry,” he said. “I was going to go back into the military right away, because I just don’t like enemies picking on civilians. If you want to fight somebody, fight a soldier, because when we were in Vietnam, that’s the way it was.”

He said his wife and daughter tried to deter him at 51 years old from re-enlisting, but ultimately, Selfridge Air National Guard Base told him no.

Shelide said he was in the hospital after major, life-changing surgery when the terrorist attacks took place. He said he was supposed to be released three or four days after the Sept. 3 surgery, but suffered severe complications.

“It was the most helpless feeling in my life ever,” Shelide said. “At the time, I was 33 years old and a 14-year veteran of the (Southfield) Police Department. I wanted to do something, anything I could, and I couldn’t.”

In his address to the group gathered around the Veterans Memorial on the township municipal grounds, Shelide briefed the gathering on the statistics of the tragedy. He said more Americans were killed on U.S. soil than any other time in the nation’s history, including Pearl Harbor.

Werner thanked all the veterans of foreign wars and the men and women currently serving in the military, as well as the members of the Shelby Township Board of Trustees who made it to the ceremony.

“(On 9/11), I was on shift working with my brothers and sisters at the Fire Department, and as the police chief said, I think we can all remember where we were and what we were doing,” Werner said. “It was a sad day for our fire service, our police service and military. … God bless America.”