Many people can recall exactly where they were when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Ten years later, another memory of place and time will be created in America the Beautiful Park.
Representatives from local government, business and civic groups have been meeting since January to plan the 9/11 Day of Remembrance, a free public commemoration beginning at 8 a.m. Sept. 11 in the city park west of downtown Colorado Springs.
The “solemn and patriotic” event will recall what happened a decade ago and honor the lives lost that day and in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson said at a press conference Tuesday.
“We recognize that as much tragedy as there was, it also was a day that brought our nation together substantially,” he said. “Our lives were changed in many ways from that day on.”
As home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Colorado Springs was one of the centers of response and continues to have close ties to 9/11, Anderson said.
NORAD monitors the skies for potential attacks, and the U.S. Northern Command was established here to provide homeland defense for the nation as a result of the terrorist attacks.
Local families also were directly impacted, said El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, who serves on the Community Commemoration Committee. The daughter of a Monument resident died in the World Trade Center attack, and a Fountain resident lost an uncle, a New York City firefighter, Hisey said.
“This impacted folks right here, close to home,” he said. “But if you’re in the third grade or less, this is history. It’s important we resolve to never forget.”
Such families are among the scheduled guests at the one-hour anniversary ceremony.
Others include Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, local military commanders and representatives from American and United airlines.
Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter will be the master of ceremonies. The Air Force Academy Stellar Brass and Cheyenne Mountain High School Crimson Chorale will perform, and fire and police honor guards will post the colors.
Winners of a middle and high school essay contest will read their entries, and red, white and blue ribbons will be handed out. Local Taco Bell restaurants also will distribute about 2,000 ribbons as a tangible way to “show their resolve that they will never forget the events of 9/11,” said Matt Grage, president and chief operating office of Colomex Inc., the local Taco Bell franchisee.
Organizers are expecting more than 1,000 attendees at the event, which will conclude with a flyover by the Colorado Air National Guard.