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Honor, freedom and the American Spirit

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Published on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 by BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

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Hearts were full of appreciation as eyes shed tears of gratitude at the September 11 Memorial Ceremony for those who were lost on that life-changing day only nine short years ago.

American Legion Post 181 held a ceremony honoring those who lost their lives in one of the most tragic and horrific events in American history and those in attendance were given the opportunity to listen to the words of inspiration that were spoken.

Tom Thorleifson, President of American Legion here in Lake Stevens, shared his memories of the events of that day and was honored to have children in the crowd who may not remember what happened but who now learn about its history. Some had not even been born when the planes went down across the Eastern United States.
“It is gratifying to see young children here today. The young ones need to know, as they are able to understand, about what happened,” Thorleifson said.

Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori also spoke of children as he reminded us of the strength of our nation.
“We must ensure that patriotism is instilled in our children and that it lives on forever. We must never forget…United we stand, together we will prevail,” Celori told the audience.

The events of that day changed our nation forever, bringing out the best in each of us and reminding us of all that has and will be accomplished in this country.
“Our culture, our nation, our system was shocked to the core,” Lake Stevens Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said.
Speaking about the 300 fellow firefighters who lost their lives in New York City that day, Marshall said, “it was as if we lost a member of our own family. We did not know them personally but we did in spirit.”

 Lake Stevens Firefighter Nick Harris was able to visit New York City just eight weeks after the attacks. He joined others from Lake Stevens who were given this opportunity.

“I was one of six people from Lake Stevens to go to New York,” Harris said.
Harris explained the meaning of the 555 alarm, a signal of bells which would ring when a firefighter is lost in the line of duty. Harris rang the bell to symbolize all firefighters lost on September 11, 2001.

“It was important that they (firefighters) honored firefighters who fell in the armed forces as well as while fighting fires,” he said.
Members of the fire department, police department and American Legion all saluted as Harris rang the 555 alarm.
Throughout the day residents came to sign books that American Legion will then send to the Pentagon, New York City and Pennsylvania. They also had a nine-minute DVD showing chronicling the events of that somber day.

“One of the main reasons The American Legion exists is to promote American values. We wanted to make an opportunity for people to come together to remember this tragedy. By signing the memorial books we can send our encouragement and support to others,” Thorleifson explained.

The entire event was very symbolic starting with the sirens at all three Lake Stevens Fire Stations sounding at exactly 9:46, the time the first plane hit the twin towers in New York City. Even the setting where the ceremony was held was symbolic.

“We are conducting this service in front of the fire station because we want to honor the firefighters and first responders at each crash site. We remember those who died while helping,” Thorleifson said. “Taps was played to remember the military people like my classmate Sergeant Major Larry Strickland who died at the Pentagon. We also remember those men and women in the military who have died in the last nine years defending our freedoms and way of life.”

Thorleifson also thanked the Lake Stevens Kiwanis and the Legion’s Auxiliary for their help in making the 9-11 event possible.

Why take the time to remember an event that changed the course of this nation and effected thousands of families across this great nation?

Legionnaire Ron McIntyre said is simply and beautifully when he said, “Respect.”


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