Across the nation, many Americans paused to reflect upon the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and honor both the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon and on United Flight 93, and their surviving families. And in many communities, the American Legion Family led those remembrances.
American Legion National Commander Daniel Seehafer delivered remarks at the Knoxville National Cemetery, noting “The ‘service before self’ ethos that we so commonly see among first responders, our military and throughout The American Legion Family is the most enduring memory that I take from 9/11.”
And in cities and towns, American Legion posts and their members staged ceremonies or collaborated with others on events, as well as taking non-traditional approaches to honoring the day.
The following are just a few examples of those efforts. American Legion Family members are encouraged to share how they commemorated 9/11 on www.legiontown.org.
In Wasilla, American Legion Post 35 was joined by various members of the community to honor the lives lost during 9/11 during the annual Patriot Day ceremony. Local Boy Scouts, West Lakes Fire Department and other community groups also were present during the event.
“One thing that ties us together is that we're Americans. We come together as one," Post 35 Commander Jim Bennetts said. "As a nation, we mourned the terrible loss of life… I think it leaves an indelible mark. This helps define us as Americans. When something like this happens, we all come together every time."
Post 35 Second Vice Commander Matthew Larson’s brother, John "Adam" Larson, was killed inside one of the Twin Towers while trying to help someone get out of the building. "He stepped up and did what every American should do," Larson said.
In Queen Creek, Duane Ellsworth American Legion Post 129 teamed with the Town of Queen Creek in hosting a 9/11 commemoration event inside the Queen Creek Community Chambers. Post Commander Steven Cain, Mayor Julia Wheatley, Queen Creek Police Chief Randy Brice and Queen Creek Fire Chief Vance Grey gave speeches and personal recollections. The ceremony concluded with a wreath-laying ceremony presented by the Queen Creek police and fire chiefs.
In Danville, American Legion Post 246 joined with veterans in San Francisco's East Bay in a large joint community remembrance of 9/11 at Oak Hill Park. The remembrance program honored firefighters, police, first responders, law enforcement and families affected by 9/11.
· In Monument, American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11 conducted a ceremony at the Monument Fire Department Station #1 along with the Monument Police Department and town officials. At 6:45 a.m. local time the colors were raised and lowered to half-staff during the singing of the national anthem.
- In Colorado Springs, Neal Thomas Jr. Centennial Post 209’s Legion Family conducted its second annual remembrance walk at Memorial Park, which included visits to the Global War on Terror, Fallen Firefighters and Peace Officers Memorials.
· In Lake Placid, American Legion Post 25 honored local first responders during its 9/11 ceremony. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jason Logan was the guest speaker during the event, which included a moment of silence before those in attendances stepped outside for the dedication of Post 25’s new mural, “Honoring Veterans,” which is painted on the east side of the post’s building. A pancake breakfast was served for the first responders after the ceremony.
· In Jacksonville, Mandarin American Legion Riders Chapter 372 staged a 9/11 ride on Sept. 9 that involved multiple American Legion posts and raised funds for the Department of Florida’s Project: Vet Relief.
· In Champaign, American Legion Post 559 invited the community to show their appreciation for those who lost their lives while helping others. Post 559 Commander Cheryl Walker, who served in the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq following the attacks, noted the day of the attacks still resonates 22 years, later. “Every time we talk about 9/11, I can remember where I was exactly, and how everybody ran and gathered around the TV and it just didn’t really seem real,” she said, while also asking the public to remember those who died in service to their nation in the ensuing wars. “It’s important to remember the people that gave the ultimate sacrifice, and every day I want to remind people,” she said.
· In Danville, American Legion Post 210 offered a free meal on 9/11 for all firefighters, police officers, EMTs, ambulance service, dispatchers and other first responders.
· In Peoria Heights, American Legion Post 1111 hosted a 9/11 ceremony. Post 1111 Commander Jim Ulrich said the ceremony is a way to keep the day in the consciousness of the nation 22 years later. “People just forget, and I don’t want people to forget,” Ulrich said. “History needs to be recorded and taught so everybody knows what happened.”
· In Warsaw, American Legion Post 49 hosted the annual Kosciusko County 9/11 ceremony. Post 49 member Ken Locke delivered remarks as he looked over members of Boy Scout Troop 715 who weren’t even born when the attacks took place. “But remember where you were. How many times have I heard today, ‘I remember where I was at.’ Let us never forget,” Locke said. “It was a horrible day, and you young people, I hope you never see a day like that in your lifetime. But it was a horrible day. It was strange to say the least, but remember where you were. Realize, for us who were living, realize that there are people 22 and younger — basically everyone in high school, everyone in college now — who were not living when this happened. So, we need to remind them what a day that was.”
· In Carlisle, American Legion Post 398 at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility held a ceremony to honor those who were lost on 9/11.
In Topeka, American Legion Post 400 set up a display of 343 flags at the Topeka Fire Station 8 on the morning of 9/11. The display represents the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 22 years ago after responded to the attacks.
In Ann Arbor, American Legion Post 46 hosted a public 9/11 Day of Remembrance Ceremony and wreath laying at Veterans Memorial Park.
“We host this event every year to mark a pivotal moment in our country’s history,” Post 46 Commander Scott Nichols said. “We offer this event to the community to come together and share their memories of that day.”
American Legion Post 35 hosted a 9/11 Day of Remembrance Ceremony including the ringing of the bell 81 times to honor each of the state’s servicemember skilled during the Global War on Terror. More than 70 community members attended the ceremony at the post, which has a Global War on Terrorism monument.
The ceremony was attended by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Justin Troiano, special assistant to police and projects for U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, who spoke on behalf of the senator. Also in attendance were Gold Star Mothers who children’s names are on the monument.
“We’ll always remember, we’ll always be proud, we’ll always be prepared, so we may always be free,” Post 35 Commander Berkley Bennett said. “It is important to remember that those who are in the military after 9/11 weren’t fighting for a president or a political party. They selflessly fought for our country because it was brutally attacked. ‘Our’ as in all of us: Black, white, rich, poor, urban, rural, young, old.”
In Rochelle Park, American Legion Post 170’s remembrance ceremony included participation from both the Rochelle Park Fire Department and Police Department, the mayor, the Boy Scouts and other local organizations.
· In Batavia, members of Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 followed a timeline in Monday morning’s remembrance that hit four timelines from 22 years ago. The ceremony began with words from Post 332 Adjutant Jim Neider at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The ceremony then resumed at each time a plane hit a target, as well as when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. Neider noted it was only the second attack by a foreign enemy on U.S. soil – but that it differed from the first one. “The Pearl Harbor attack was carried out by a sovereign nation. It was a conventional military assault on mostly military targets,” Neider said. “It was an event never before inflicted upon our country. 9/11 was different — more sinister, more inherent evil. The intent was not some complex military exercise. It was carried out using just a dozen or so terrorists, using civilian aircraft as their primary weapon, aimed against primarily civilian targets. Who were these people? Why did they attack us? No one could explain. No one could explain the reasons behind this monster deed. It was an assault against everything we, as a nation, stood for; everything that we believed in; everything we held dear.”
· In Chinatown, American Legion Lt. Kimlau Post 1291 held its annual Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at Lt. Kimlau Square. Members of Post 1291 marched from the post to the Kimlau Memorial Arch.
· In St. James, Richard H. Stewart Jr. American Legion Post 543 teamed with the St. James Fire Department for a remembrance ceremony at the St James Community Center. Retired FDNY Captain Pat Cleary shared his memories of responding to the alarm and escaping the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the building fell. American Legion Post 543 is named after Richard H. Stewart, Jr. who was killed that day at the World Trade Center.
· In Fuquay-Varina, American Legion Post 116 conducted a remembrance ceremony hosted by the post’s honor guard. During the ceremony, Post 116 Second Vice Commander David Rossner reflected on his service aboard Air Force One on Sept. 11, 2001.
In Brilliant, American Legion Post 573 hosted a 9/11 commemoration that featured Brilliant Volunteer Fire Chief Brian Harvey as the keynote speaker. He said it’s important to note the anniversary.
"Police, fire, EMS, port authority members gave their life that day for something that meant a lot greater than them,” Harvey said. “This day is something special to me. I was in middle school at the time when it started. Because of that day and because of the events that happened that day it led me to go down the career path that I ended up choosing to go with.”
· In Coraopolis, members of American Legion Post 924 and American Legion Riders Chapter 924 joined with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Moon Township and Coraopolis Fire Departments to conduct a 9/11 memorial service. The ceremony included the playing of Taps at each time a plane hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and crashed at Shanksville.
· In Claysville, Hunt-Kennedy Post 639 teamed with the Claysville Fire Department to conduct a 9/11 ceremony.
· In Custer, American Legion Post 46 and the Custer Veterans Honor Guard performed a flag retirement program on 9/11 at Veterans Memorial Park. Veterans were given the opportunity to present a flag in honor of those who were at the Pentagon, while all law enforcement agencies, the ambulance service and search-and-rescue responders were asked to present a flag on behalf of first responders; and local residents were encouraged to present a flag to remember the civilians who were involved.
· In Box Elder, American Legion Riders from Chapter 22 participated in the Patriot Day Parade at Ellsworth Air Force Base. The Riders escorted a historical fire truck that belongs to one of the Riders.
· In Johnson City, Kings Mountain Post 24 conducted its fifth annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony. The post remembered victims of the attack and also honored local first responders.
· In Dover, the 10th annual Stewart County Community "Rally Round the Flagpole-9/11 National Day of Remembrance" was hosted at the Stewart County Tennessee Visitors Center by the American Legion Post 72 family, with a "Heroes Picnic" hosted by Dover Care Center.
"Thank you to all who came to remember and honor the fallen and their families," said Post 72 Adjutant Don Bailey. "Mrs. Ann Priddy, RN-Certified Flight registered nurse, was our guest speaker and she spoke about her time on ground zero assisting within a few hours after the attack. Our Stewart Co. first responders, Andy Luffman-Stewart Co. Fire-Rescue and Jason Frazier-Stewart Co. EMS, spoke about their experiences on the day of the attack. After the conclusion of the ringing of the bell, a moment of silence and flag waving, first responders and military personnel were treated to a BBQ lunch by the staff of Dover Care Center (formally Diversicare of Dover). Never forget."
In McAllen, American Legion Post 37’s Legion Family hosted its annual 9/11 ceremony, which included the releasing of black balloons to honor those who died during the attacks.