|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 15 September 2010 00:00|
It was a beautiful Saturday, Sept. 11, and regardless of what plans people may have had later in the day, a group of several dozen gathered at noon for a somber purpose.
Crowded in and around the gazebo just off Camp Verde’s Main Street, they were there to remember the terrorist attacks that rocked the nation nine years ago to the day.
It’s a day that everyone who was old enough to realize what was happening will never forget, said Sharon Doran, vice president of the Arizona Department of the American Legion Auxiliary.
“And so we come each year to remember,” Doran said, “lest we forget.”
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that September Tuesday when 19 hijackers crashed passenger jets into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. More were killed when they fought terrorists for control of a fourth plane that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
Even though the group had to meet at the gazebo because of a prior event at the normal meeting spot at the nearby ramada, the ceremony still started with a firefighter ringing the ramada’s bell in a tribute to fallen firefighters known as “striking the four-fives.” It dates back to older days when it was a signal to announce a firefighter had died in the line of duty. A total of 343 firefighters and paramedics died Sept. 11, 2001, as they rushed in to help save others.
“I didn’t know any of the firefighters or anyone else who died that day,” said Clayton Young, interim fire chief with the Camp Verde Fire District. “But knowing firefighters like I do, I know they died doing what they believed in.”
In thinking back to the many heroic actions performed by people from all walks of life that day, Clayton said their example showed the world that “ordinary human beings living ordinary lives” can perform extraordinary acts when they have to.
American Legion Auxillary Unit 93 President Dot Morey likened her reaction to witnessing the 9/11 attacks unfold to another attack she remembers, Dec. 7, 1941, when the forces of the Empire of Japan carried out a surprise attack on American forces stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In both cases, Morey said the news of the day brought tears streaming down her face.
It was a day the country learned firsthand that we have enemies bent on our destruction, said Marge Fela, commander pro-tem of the local Legion post.
“We owe them the vow to never forget their sacrifices,” Fela said, speaking of not only those who died that day but the men and women in the military who have put their lives on the line ever since to protect Americans.
Camp Verde Mayor Bob Burnside and his wife, Suzy, read aloud a proclamation from the town. Later, a wreath was laid in honor of the fallen while the American Legion honor guard fired a rifle salute. The crowd was left to contemplate sacrifice as a trumpeter played “Taps,” before finally the distant bell that started the ceremony rang 11 more times.
Burnside said this remembrance should always be about the people who died and those who continue to live and fight against terrorism, echoing the sentiment, “Never forget.”
“It’s not what we say here as dignitaries that’s important,” Burnside said.
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