Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1115 organizers of a 9/11 Ceremony are counting on citizens to once again band together in the midst of political division nationally. A ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack is scheduled this Sunday at the Hillsville Post.
In what some would consider an omen, Post Commander Marty Rivera found two 9/11 “Flag of Heroes” carefully tucked away in the post’s gun room in Hillsville. (He said he has no idea how the flags came to be there.) One of these will be flown during the ceremony at the post and the other will be presented to representatives of first responders on hand for the ceremony Sunday at the Post.
“I really feel they will appreciate the gesture,” said Rivera. “The Hillsville Fire Department saw them and said wow. They said they had heard of the flags but had never seen them.”
He said the flags bear the names of first responders killed during the attacks.
Rivera said the Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department bagpiper will perform at the ceremony and the Department will also have a featured singer to perform The National Anthem. Participants are requested to gather at the VFW Post at 8 a.m. for a run-through of the ceremony. Participants are scheduled to line up at 8:30 a.m. and march over the Veterans Memorial. The first bell to be rung during the ceremony will be at 8:46 a.m. to correspond to that day in 2001 when hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crashed the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, (WTC) killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building.
At 9:03 a.m. that day, hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds more inside the building. Around 9:37 a.m., hijackers aboard Flight 77 crashed the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building.
What some later called the first action against the war on terrorism happened around 10:07 a.m. after passengers and crew members aboard hijacked Flight 93 contacted friends and family, learned of attacks in New York and Washington and attemped to retake control of the plane. Officials later determined in response, hijackers deliberately crashed the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew.
Rivera said tentative plans call for members of the Carroll County High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) to lead the march to the memorial. Colors will be flown at half mast that day to honor the victims. Agencies who are tentatively scheduled to participate include the Hillsville Police Department, Virginia State Police, The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and Laurel Fork Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.
Early plans for the ceremony call for the posting of colors from each participating group on one side of the Memorial with American Flags being flown on the other side. A free breakfast for participants following the ceremony is also planned.
“We are expecting 150 or over with the fire and rescue departments participating. What better way of showing respect for our brothers in arms? They did their part and more here just like veterans who did the same over there, too. Everyone is welcome to the breakfast,” said Rivera “We’d like for participants to RSVP by calling 276-728-2911 as soon as possible so we can better plan for the meal.”
Riverra, noting the 15-year anniversary of the attack, said he feels the moment in history is still on the minds of young and old Americans, who have no trouble recalling the meaning behind the ceremony.
“This was a tragedy where we came together as a country. Deciding to pull together,” Rivera said. “There was so much divisiveness but at that moment the Country stood together. It’s something I think we could use more of right now.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]