Posted: Sep 11, 2012 10:49 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2012 4:39 AM
For one Kentucky family, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is always a difficult day. Edward Earhart, a 26-year-old Navy meterologist working in the Pentagon, was killed when the plane hit the building eleven years ago.
Tuesday night, some family members and friends gathered at the Hamilton Cemetery in Morehead to honor his memory.
It was a clear evening. Blue skies as far as you could see. Earhart was always looking to the skies.
"Ed was a weatherman," says his aunt, Claudette Thomas, "And this was the closest symbolization we could get to a weather balloon," she said of the sky lantern they plan to release.
Claudette Thomas remembers when Earhart started his specialization, and how he said he'd never be able to look at the sky the same way again.
"He said I'll always be thinking in terms of weather. What's coming in next, what's rolling in next." she says.
Edward Earhart was assigned to the Pentagon where, he had a lot of responsibility, including briefing the joint chiefs of staff on weather conditions. Earhart was supposed to be off Sept. 11, 2001, but he came into work anyway to help a co-worker adjust to a new schedule. Earhart was struck and killed by a beam when the Pentagon was hit.
Eleven years later, it doesn't get any easier remembering. Charlotte Earhart lost her son, but she and the rest of her family are determined to keep what he stood for alive.
"That's all we can do is remember how he was and who he was and keep on going," says Charlotte Earhart.
"Our goal has always been...to make sure his memory and all that were lost that day aren't forgotten, and the ones that did survive are remembered," says Claudette Thomas.
Edward Earhart's second cousin, 33-year-old Chief Petty Officer Collin Thomas died in battle. He was a Navy Seal supporting "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan.
Earhart always kept a piece of Kentucky with him. His favorite drink was Ale 8 in a bottle. In memory of him, they toasted to him and left bottles of Ale 8 at his gravesite. Meanwhile across the country in Fort Hood, Texas, others did the same thing. A can of Ale 8 was placed at a 9/11 memorial there.
Several of Earhart's personal items were donated to the Kentucky Historical Society's Museum in Frankfort.