|Colleen Battershell, 8, of Leesburg, holds an American flag and her mother Sherri’s hand during Leesburg’s Sept. 11 observance ceremony on the Town Green. At left stand Caroline, 14, and Christian, 12, while their father Alan, a volunteer fire fighter, stands with other rescue personnel. “That event [Sept. 11, 2001] is now in the history textbooks. What we lived is in the textbooks, similar to my parents’ generation and Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President Kennedy. They are events that mark our time,” Sherri said. —Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
As the sun began to set below the horizon, a small but dedicated contingent gathered on the town lawn in Leesburg to honor the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Joining the reverent group of residents were local police officers and fire-rescue squad members.
Leesburg Mayor Umstattd led the brief ceremony, delivering the keynote address to the 50 or so faces in the crowd, recalling the emotion and fear from that day and thanking those who took time out of their day to remember.
“As with any victim of tragedy, the friends and family worry people will stop caring,” Umstattd said. “God bless you all for being here.”
And while Umstattd and others in the crowd choked back emotion recollecting the loss, Umstattd noted the aftermath of the attacks showed something bigger.
“It brought out the very best of what it is, what it always has been and what it always will be, to be an American,” Umstattd told the crowd.
The mayor recollected the ordinary Americans who seemed to be extraordinary -- those who helped down the plane in Shanksville, Pa., the firefighters and police officers who entered the burning towers and the everyday citizens who tried to help.
“Because you are an American, you carry with you the same courage, compassion, resolution and willingness to help others that those souls who perished had with them,” Umstattd said solemnly.
Umstattd, who has been mayor since 2002 and was vice mayor in 2000 and 2001, has participated in 12 ceremonies, including a small one days after the attack. Attendance ebbs and flows, with the 10-year anniversary bringing a large crowd, but Umstattd said it's still important to have a ceremony.
“One thing we do well as Americans is move past tragedy,” Umstattd said. “But I think we need to remember. To not do so is disrespectful.”
Also featured in the ceremony was Loudoun County High School senior Hallie Dineen, who sang the National Anthem; bagpiper Tim Kirkpatrick; John Paul Mosimann, a priest at St. John the Apostle Roman Catholic Church who led the crowd in prayer; and former Leesburg Volunteer Fire Co. chief J.B. Anderson, who led the Pledge of Allegiance.
“We need to remember each time why we pledge to Old Glory,” said Anderson, a Vietnam War veteran.
The American and Virginia flags were brought out by the Leesburg Police Department and Loudoun County Sheriff's Office's joint honor guard.
Umstattd and the town plan on holding another ceremony next year, and Umstattd hopes the tradition continues for many years to come.
|R.J. Wolfe, 6, of Leesburg, standing in front of volunteer fire fighters lining a wall of the Town Green, participates in the Pledge of Allegiance during Leesburg's Sept. 11 observance ceremony.
His father Richard is president of the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company and stood with them along the wall. Richard says R.J. hasn't yet seen photos of the towers falling because he's still too young, but he's starting to understand more about what happened. He's also starting to worry about the risks his father faces as a fire fighter. --Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
Be the first to post a comment!