Sept. 11 Freedom Park memorial is Sunday
EDWARDS, Colorado – Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. While many Coloradoans might be physically removed from what happened that day, chances are most of us are not emotionally removed.Anyone old enough to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001, likely remembers the pain that spread throughout the country and the unity we all felt in the days and months that followed. It was the worst terrorist attack ever, and it’s a day we will never forget.The Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, along with several other local organizations and emergency responders, is hosting a full day of remembrance Sunday at Freedom Park in Edwards, the Edwards Field House and Battle Mountain High School.JoAnn Moore, a local event planner who helped organize the event, said it will be very moving. She expects as many as 3,000 people to attend.”I see lots of tears in our future with this,” she said. “We need to take a step back and mourn.”The main guest speaker is retired Col. Tom Kirk, a former Vail resident and highly decorated United States Air Force fighter pilot from the Korean and Vietnam wars. He spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war at the Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton, in North Vietnam. Sen. John McCain was one of his cellmates. Mike Staten, the Edwards area manager for WECMRD, said the Edwards Field House staff drives by Freedom Park every day and sees the memorial piece of limestone there that came from the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. The staff started talking about the 10th anniversary and decided to ask the board for support. From there, Staten reached out to Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Charlie Moore, who is also JoAnn Moore’s husband.”That was the start of it,” he said. The event was going to be a “sweet reminder,” JoAnn Moore said, but it has turned into a much larger event.Children have submitted essays for a contest, and winners will read their essays at the ceremony. There will also be just over 3,000 American flags, representing the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Attendees will be asked to take flags and place them in the ground near the Pentagon limestone piece. A bell will sound three times in honor of the lives lost, JoAnn Moore said.The entire ceremony will also serve as a way to say thank you to all of the emergency responders who risk their lives regularly, she said.Staten said organizers, including Charlie Moore, local veteran Buddy Sims and other local organizations, have been very careful to make the event respectful and dignified. They wanted to have an educational component for local children and teenagers who either can’t remember Sept. 11 or might not have been born yet. There will be documentaries, history and other educational events from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Battle Mountain High School auditorium. A silent processional with local fire, police, emergency responders and Veterans of Foreign Wars, including special guests will occur, followed by an F-16 fighter jet flyover.”It is a memorial ceremony – a lot of people lost their lives – that needs to be a very dignified and solemn piece,” Staten said. “It was such a tragic event. Every single one of us is probably going to have a rush of emotions and will probably remember where we were at when this happened. It’s healthy for us, as a community, to remember that together.”Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 email@example.com.