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Recovering Charles Pauses To Memorialize 9/11 Losses
Plaque Dedicated at Belated Ceremony in La Plata


Colleen Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer

June 30, 2002

Perhaps it was the chilling reference to poet John Donne's edict that "no man is an island," made by a widower grappling with his wife's death, that put the past 10 months in Charles County into perspective.

The devastating April 28 tornado left homes a shambles and much of a town to be rebuilt, but those who gathered at a special ceremony in stricken La Plata were given a glimpse of the wrenching pain endured by neighbors who, on Sept. 11, lost what can never be replaced.

No one could bring back the six Charles County residents who died when terrorists crashed a plane into the Pentagon. So their community decided to remember them. On Tuesday, county officials pushed forward with the ceremony originally scheduled for early May but delayed by tornado cleanup, to unveil a Sept. 11 memorial designed to make the names of those six victims live on in the county's memory.

"They were wonderful to go through with this after the tornado," said Jann Yamnicky, wife of John D. Yamnicky Sr., a retired Navy captain who was a passenger on the American Airlines flight that hit the Pentagon. "It means a lot to all of us that he will be forever memorialized."

A buzzing crowd settled into the auditorium of the government building just after 3 p.m. for a program of musical performances and tributes. The Senior Cloggers dance group, Silvertones chorus and Southern Maryland Concert Band provided hearty doses of patriotic respite in between the solemn tributes given for the dead by county commissioners, family members and high school officials.

Kris Romeo Bishundat was remembered by Heath Morrison, principal of Thomas Stone High School, for his friendliness and ability to form meaningful relationships.

Commissioner Robert Fuller recounted Donna Marie Bowen's last kiss to her husband at 4:15 a.m. Sept. 11.

Sharon A. Carver's honesty, bluntness and "big, beautiful smile" are cemented in her family's memory, Commissioner James M. Jarboe said.

Teacher Kathy Jenkins recalled Angela M. Houtz's sharpness, diligence and good humor as a student at Maurice J. McDonough High School.

Donn Marshall's tribute to his wife, Shelley A. Marshall, challenged the audience to seek the "courage to fight evil and the courage to be compassionate" in the fight against terrorism.
"She lived passionately, loved fiercely and left us a hero," he said. "Her death, and the deaths of all our heroes, must not be in vain. Their deaths must mark a turning point in our world."

The loss of John Yamnicky Sr., a "magnificent man devoted to his faith, his family and his country," has left its mark on many in the community, Commissioner W. Daniel Mayer said, his voice slightly faltering.

Outside, silence cloaked the air as the victims' family members lifted the blue velvet covering off the bronze plaque inscribed with six names and the outline of the Pentagon. A distant trumpeter played forlorn taps.

Six memorial trees -- four crepe myrtles and two red maples -- provided a living backdrop for the husbands, wives, sisters, parents and grandparents who wiped away their tears and put on brave smiles as onlookers approached them with hugs and words of encouragement.

2002 The Washington Post Company
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