Four area fire departments – Waconia, Mayer, Norwood Young America, and Cologne – are collaborating on a special September 11th 20th anniversary commemoration this year.
The occasion will be marked by a ceremony for firefighters and other first-responders at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 at City Square Park in Waconia followed by a walking parade to the Waconia Fire Station for a public ceremony at 3:30 p.m.
The Waconia Fire Department has marked 9/11 every year since the tragic events of that date 20 years ago when a coordinated series of terrorist attacks using commercial airliners struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane was the only one not to hit its intended target, believed to be either the White House or the Capitol Building, instead crashing in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to regain control of the aircraft away from hijackers. The attacks resulted in nearly 3,000 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries and substantial long-term health and political consequences.
But like Dec. 7, 1941 – the attack on Pearl Harbor, the previous largest assault on American soil – the date 9/11 has faded from many memories, and attendance at ceremonies has fallen in recent years, notes Tom Martino, one of the event organizers from the Waconia fire department. Many young people living today were not even born when the 9/11 attacks occurred or were just children and have vague memories.
The upcoming 20th anniversary, he said, is an opportunity to rekindle the memories and spirt of the observance. Also, to honor the victims in the attacks and the first responders who died fulfilling their duties: firefighters, police officers and medical technicians.
Retired Waconia fire chief Randy Sorensen, now a city councilman, points out that “the country really came together after 9/11 and has been at war” against terrorism ever since.
Now the nation is more divided than ever, and the 20th anniversary observation may be a chance to revitalize the brief period of national unity.
There will be two featured speakers at the local observances this Sept. 11, with a light meal to follow the public ceremony.
Watch for two aerial fire trucks with a large American flag outside the fire station and listen for bagpipe music and the ringing of bells that day. Local scouts and a Waconia American Legion and VFW honor guard also will be involved in the commemoration.
In addition, commemorative coins will be distributed to participating firefighters and first-responders who register for the event, with extra coins made available to the public for purchase to help fund the event.
Area fire departments and first-responders have been asked to RSVP via Facebook at the Waconia Fire Relief Association page or Tom Martino at (612) 644-3372.