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VIGIL TO HONOR TRADE CENTER, PENTAGON VICTIMS

A candlelight vigil Wednesday in Cheektowaga will honor fallen firefighters, police officers and other victims of the terrorist attacks last week on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Events will begin at 7:30 p.m. on the front steps of Town Hall, 3301 Broadway at Union Road.

"It's a way to bring the community together at a time that's so very, very important to us," Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said. "It's a way to bring citizens together to stand tall in our resolve, to show we will not stand for these acts of terrorism on our property, on our land."

Echoing the sentiments of President Bush, Councilman Thomas M. Johnson Jr. urged people not to be overwhelmed by their sorrow and grief, but to join together and celebrate their patriotism.

"We must return to our jobs and our daily activities with renewed vigor," he said. "We can't show the enemies of the United States we have lost our resolve. We have to raise our spirits."

Wal-Mart has donated 1,000 candles for the vigil. Town officials, who could not estimate how many people will attend the event, are encouraging people to bring their own candles, as well.

The Pvt. Leonard Post Jr. Post 6251, Veterans of Foreign Wars, has donated 500 hand-held flags. Each flag will bear the name of one of the victims who died in the four hijacked airplanes, Gabryszak said. At the end of the vigil, people will be asked to put their flags in the front lawn of Town Hall. The building itself will be adorned with a huge American flag and illuminated by red, white and blue floodlights.

The 86-piece Cleveland Hill High School band will perform five songs, including "God Bless America." A parade of fire engines and police cars will circle Town Hall, paying tribute to the firefighters and police officers who died while trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center, Gabryszak said.

Cheektowaga firefighters will collect money during the vigil for the United Way's September 11th Fund, continuing efforts made Monday by a local fire company.

Holding out empty firefighters' boots, firefighters from Forks Fire District 3 dotted the Broadway-Union Road area Monday evening, asking motorists to donate money for the United Way fund. Within 1 1/2 hours, the firefighters has raised more than $2,000. Nationally, the fund has received pledges of more than $26 million.

Gabryszak has invited two local ministers to offer prayers at the vigil. The invitation list also includes County Executive Joel Giambra and several other county and local officials. State and federal representatives also were invited, but had previous commitments in Albany and Washington, D.C., the supervisor said.

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