To the editor:
Something we all share as Americans is that each of us can remember what we were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I remember standing on the front steps of my fifth graders school building, commenting to another parent who was dropping off his children a little late, It couldnt be a more beautiful day. The sky couldnt be bluer.
By the time I reached home and checked my e-mail, there was a message from one my sisters wondering if our eldest sister, an American Airlines Flight Attendant, was flying that morning. After what seemed like an eternity, we were able to reach her husband who asked if we wanted to speak with her; she was sleeping in after a long flight. Both of them then went to their back deck with its view of Manhattan across the river and watched as a World Trade Center tower collapsed. My sister knew people on two of the flight crews who perished that day. Since that time she has flown multiple trips ferrying soldiers home from the Middle East. All of our lives have changed; something else we, as Americans, all share. But something better we all hold in common post-9/11 are our heroes from that day: the fire fighters and first responders in New York and at the Pentagon, and the crew and passengers of the final plane who gave their lives in Pennsylvania.
In the last decade many of us searched for ways to remember and honor all those who died on 9/11, as well as the heroes who gave their lives trying to save them. Official groups formed to determine memorials, to discuss what is appropriate to construct on the sites of the tragedies. However, I learned only recently that there was a local group who took action immediately to commemorate the sacrifice made by the Fire Service personnel who gave the last full measure on 9/11. The Friendship Fountain was renovated in 2001to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Circle of Honor at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Old Town Alexandria. They voted to rededicate this fountain as a memorial to those brave Fire Fighters and the ceremony to do so took place on October 12, 2001.
The original Circle of Honor is an 1856 memorial constructed by the grateful citizens of Alexandria to honor seven Fire Fighters who lost their lives in the Alexandria fire of 1855. Each year in early October, Ivy Hill Cemetery and its Historical Society host the Alexandria Fire Department for a ceremony to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty in Alexandria. In 2001, this was expanded to include the 9/11 Fire Fighters. A visit to the fountain and Circle of Honor at Ivy Hill Cemetery would be a meaningful way to remember and commemorate 9/11. Ivy Hill is open to visitors daily. On October 7, 2011, during its annual Memorial Service at Ivy Hill, the Alexandria Fire Department will commemorate the tenth anniversary of that dedication to our heroes last full measure. We are all invited to attend.