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This is Home: PHS remembers Mary Lou Hague 19 years after her death

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:05 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - 19 years ago Friday was one of the darkest days in American history. Around 3,000 Americans were killed by terrorists who attacked landmarks like the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Among the lives lost was Mary Lou Hague, a young woman from Parkersburg. She was working in the Twin Towers when they were destroyed.

Traditionally, Parkersburg High School holds a ceremony on the morning of September 11th in remembrance of Hague and the other lives lost in the attacks, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials decided not to invite the public in for such a gathering.

Instead, Principal Kenny DeMoss recounted what he knew of Hague during morning announcements and offered a moment of silence.

DeMoss graduated from Parkersburg High one year ahead of Hague. He talks about her every year with students at PHS.

Hague’s mother, who WTAP could not reach for comment, speaks each year at the ceremony in front of Parkersburg High School. She also pays for the flower beds out front to be maintained. Each one hosts a plaque with Mary Lou’s name and face engraved on their surface. DeMoss says she organizes a scholarship in Mary Lou’s honor as well.

Inside of student services, a flag flown above the U.S. Capitol on the tenth anniversary of the attacks rests in a frame next to Hague’s picture. Just outside the hallway is a flag drawn on a poster using the names of all the victims of 9/11.

PHS also remembers Hague with the Mary Lou Hague Sports and Arts Complex. Though not many arts programs still take place in that building, DeMoss says it still reflects Hague as an athlete. He recalls her being a member of the Red Wings.

“We lost a Big Red. In this community it’s important to us to be able to reflect on her life and reflect on the impact she made on us in a positive way when she was around and now that she is no longer around, the impact that she still makes,” said DeMoss.

Though there are few school employees left who remember Hague, her legacy has had a lasting impact on those who remember the attacks.

“The thing that helped me move on was a whole year later. They did kind of a retrospective on everything that had happened up until that time. I remember it was CBS News that did it. It was two hours long. It just didn’t feel real. Even a year later there was so much about it that seemed surreal. I remember there was an interview with a fireman, a rescuer, and a woman asked how he felt and he said it doesn’t feel real, doesn’t feel like it really happened. Then he stopped and he said it did really happen didn’t it? They had this show, at the very end of it, there was a camera panning across a wall at ground zero and it was plastered with posters of have you seen this person. It was people who were hoping their family had just been separated from them and there was no way to communicate with them, like they had been cut off from them and just hadn’t heard from them. I remember just like it was yesterday; it stopped and zoomed in and the poster was of Mary Lou Hague and I just burst into tears. I didn’t realize until then I had never really cried, I had never really mourned it. Even though I didn’t know anybody, I knew family of Mary Lou, I had her little brother in class. It just became real then,” said Joe Stephens, a teacher at PHS.

Copyright 2020 WTAP. All rights reserved.

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