For seven years the American Legion Family from Hampstead Post 200 in Maryland has staged a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Nothing was going to stop the Legion Family members from continuing the remembrance in some way or another during the coronavirus pandemic.
Utilizing the post’s outdoor pavilion and a collection of luminaries previously obtained for another ceremony that was rained out, Auxiliary Unit 200 staged a luminary display open to the public underneath the pavilion so weather wouldn’t have an impact.
“It ended up being a wonderful night with a great turnout,” Past Unit 200 Historian Elinore Frush said. “Everyone’s comments were positive. There were tears. I think we hit the hearts of the visitors. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Post 200’s Legion Family annually offers a free Veterans Day dinner for area veterans, an event Frush said has gotten so popular that now there are two dinners requiring reservations in order to accommodate all the requests. During one of the dinners the post lined its walkway with the luminaries, “and they loved it,” Frush said of the diners. “As they walked up the ramp and into the building, they stopped and looked. We had names written on them. It was pretty nice.”
Frush made it a point to talk to some of the people who stopped by the display. “Everyone that attended there told me they knew exactly where they were and what they were doing (on 9/11),” she said. “This was so catastrophic for our country. Even when you saw the second plane hit (the World Trade Center), you could not imagine that that could happen in this country.”
Unit 200 also used the display to honor U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action, which it also has done at previous ceremonies. The display included the POW-MIA empty table set for one, while some luminary bags had facts and descriptions written on them about 9/11 survivors, POWs and MIAs.
“We also think it’s very important to honor the POWs and MIAs, which we’ve done for the past seven years,” Frush said. “We have this beautiful pavilion that is named in honor of POWs and MIAs. And it turned out wonderful.”
Across the country American Legion Family members ensured Patriot Day was observed in their communities. The following are a few examples.
In New Palestine, American Legion Post 182 conducted a 9/11 tribute at the Southern Hancock Veterans Memorial for a crowd of more than 50 people that included several first-responders. The ceremony included the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, a prayer, an honor guard 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.
“We should never forget the day we were attacked and lost so many lives, so we honor those were lost,” Post 182 Vice Commander Mike Fowler told the Daily Reporter. “As people were saying last night, there were (nearly 3,000) people 19 years ago who were eating their last meal last night but didn’t know it. And families who would be looking at an empty chair the next day. A lot of people don’t think of that. We need to remember that, and remember the firemen and policemen who were rushing in to try to get those people out.”
The Daniel R. Olsen Post 594 American Legion Family conducted a Patriot Day remembrance at the Eagan Tribute Plaza in Central Park to honor the victims of 9/11. Post 594 Commander John Flynn served as emcee of the program, while Auxiliary Unit 594 member and Eagan High School teacher Kim Hanson Ashland delivered a speech recalling the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and how that day changed America.
A group of Eagan Junior Girl Scouts led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and a moment of silence was followed by Unit 594 President Susan Flynn and the Junior Girl Scouts leading all in the singing of “God Bless America”.
The event concluded at sundown, with Past Post Commander Tom Mullon performing TAPS while members of the Post 594 Color Guard raised the U.S. flag, as well as the fire and police department flags, to full-staff.
Vass American Legion Post 296 had a Patriot Salute planned for Sept. 12 to honor first responders and members of the military, but the coronavirus put a halt to that. So instead, the post created certificates of appreciation for first responders and dispatched them by “Pony Express” via the post’s American Legion Riders to the fire and police departments in Moore County. The Riders’ travels counted toward The American Legion’s “100 Miles for Hope” challenge.
Post 296 also collected nominations of current servicemembers to receive certificates of honor.
For the second straight year, members of American Legion Lesure-Blackston Post 239 planted 2,977 American flags along the corners of the Village Green on High Street and Dublin Granville Road in Worthington to honor those, representing the number of lives lost during the 9/11 attacks.
“America was attacked on its own soil. And those who lost their lives… they need to be remembered,” Post 239 Commander Glenn Luksik told WKBN.
Luksik was part of a small group that lowered the large flag at the Village Green to half-staff, played Taps and saluted with a cannon being fired. The event was streamed online starting at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
• In East Stroudsburg, American Legion Post 903 joined members of the East Stroudsburg Elks Lodge 319 and the Monroe County Joint Veterans Honor Guard for a remembrance ceremony. Representatives from all three organizations read off the names of those Pennsylvanians lost on 9/11. ″ (The most important thing is) just that we never forget what happened on 9/11,” Post 903 Adjutant Albert Compoly told the Pocono Record. “It was something that this country had never seen before, and we need to not forget all those people who died, and how they died. I think that’s the most important thing to remember, to keep this alive, to keep this ceremony alive from year to year.”
• In Gilbert, West End Memorial American Legion Post 927 conducted a small Patriot Day ceremony that included condolences from Post 903 Commander Danny Insalata and Post Chaplain Eileen McGuire and a wreath laying underneath the U.S. flag. Following the wreath laying, Post 927 members took down the flag, folded it and replaced it with the victims’ memorial flag listing each and every individual’s name, for the day.
In Spearfish, the Black Hills Chapter of the American Legion Riders spent Patriot Day honoring the victims of the 9/11 attacks, local patriots and first responders, as well as finishing The American Legion’s 100 Miles for Hope challenge in a celebration of life in memory of one of their riders killed five years ago in a motorcycle accident at 46, leaving behind a wife and three children.
The chapter started off with their ride with a salute to the medical and support staff at the Fort Meade VA Healthcare Center, and from there rode to the Black Hills National Cemetery to pause, pray and remember American Legion Rider Robert (Borb) Borbely, friends, comrades and family members. A single red rose and small flag were placed at the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and on each veteran gravesite visited.
Johnson City American Legion Post 24 conducted a Remembrance Day and Patriot Day ceremony at Memorial Park. The ceremony included remarks from retired Army Col. Thomas Evans, who was in the Pentagon during the attack and was supposed to attend a meeting in one of the offices that was hit.
Watch the ceremony here.