HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 22 years ago, the nation faced a tragedy that will never be forgotten. A local city held an annual service that made sure the lives lost would always be honored.

The city of Hazleton gathered at a local parish to honor the victims of 9/11. This annual service is their way to come together and never forget.

22 years ago, New Yorkers filled the pews of their churches following the tragedy that the nation will never forget September 11.

Since 2002, the city of Hazelton has been honoring those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks in a similar way, through prayer.

“We had the first mass on the first remembrance. Firefighters in New York told me that Hazelton is the only fire department, other than New York, that has not missed a year for a memorial service,” said Hazleton City council organizer and volunteer firefighter Tony Colombo.

Sacred words were spoken by Hazleton city officials and firefighters following the mass.

The Scranton Black Diamonds Band filled the outside of the church with music while the Hazleton American Legion Post 76 lined up for a gun salute.

Joe Barna, Senior Vice Commander of VFW 5010, and his fellow veterans have been a part of the remembrance for as long as he could remember.

“I like to be with these guys because they’re a great bunch of guys. And like I say, to be with them – you enjoy yourself and you’re never alone. If we stick together, we’re strong,” Barna explained.

Every year, the city comes together for the annual mass, a reminder of how the nation became one following the attacks.

“We know the tragic events of September 11, but September 12, that day brought our country together. Our country was together unified, it was one. It was a nation of one,” said City of Hazleton Fire Department Chief Donald Leshko.

“Three days after the fact I was in New York. We took supplies up from Hazleton and we made a lot of good friends with the fire department up there,” Colombo explained.

The memorial mass maybe once a year, but the lives lost are remembered 365.

“As a nation, as a state, and as a city, we gotta continue to always remember this day and never forget those who were taken so tragically from us that day,” said Chief Leshko.

Those who organize the annual service say they already have special plans for next year for the community to honor the lives lost in 9/11.