Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and I wanted to honor the memory of one of the victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, a local young man, Lt. Jonas M. Panik, U.S. Navy Reserve.
Sadly, I never met Panik. However, he and I have a lot in common:
We were both born in Centre County; he in State College, me in Bellefonte.
We’re both Roman Catholic.
He went to Bellefonte High School, and my father taught at BHS.
Lt. Panik and my husband both graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy; Panik graduating on my birthday, June 14.
Panik and I shared the same career path within the defense intelligence arena.
Finally, Lt. Panik and I were both at work inside the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
My husband and I live in northern Virginia, and Sunday I again placed white roses on the bench that bears Panik’s name at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, sat for a bit, and said a prayer for him and for our nation. A small gesture, I know, but it’s the least I can do to honor a hero and patriot from Centre County, Pennsylvania.
I share these thoughts because I believe it is important to remember Panik’s sacrifice, dedication to his country and the inspiration his life and his memory can have on the children and adults of Bellefonte and Centre County. He’s a hometown hero. It’s the least we can do.
Carroll S. Lee, Arlington, Va.