Town observes Patriot Day in remembrance of 9/11

Wayne King from Vinton Fire and EMS observed Patriot Day in
remembrance of 9/11 by “Striking the Four Fives” in memory of
fallen comrades– a long-held tradition of firefighters.

Vinton municipal employees held their second annual observance of Patriot Day on Tuesday, in remembrance of first responders and the innocent victims who perished in terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Town staff and Mayor Brad Grose gathered in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building— the ceremony moved indoors due to inclement weather. Special Programs Director Mary Beth Layman welcomed those who took the time to attend and “to remember the price the United States of America paid for our continuing freedom.” The Vinton Police Department Color Guard presented the colors. Pastor Jae Song, former associate pastor at Thrasher Memorial and now pastor at Red Valley UMC, offered the invocation, remembering the tragedy of 17 years ago, the first responders who demonstrated their dedication, and their families who supported them.

Vinton resident Germaine Coles- Fletcher sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Vinton Deputy Police Chief Fabricio Drumond. Wayne King from Vinton Fire and EMS solemnly performed the “Striking of the Four Fives,” a tradition dating from the 1800s. “Long before radios, pagers, or fire alarms, daily announcements were sent from headquarters to firehouses by a system of bell commands and telegraph,” said Layman. “When a firefighter died in the line of duty, headquarters would transmit five bell strikes, repeated in a series of four. This custom has continued through the years to this day. It is a form of rendering final honors to departed comrades.” In his remarks, Mayor Grose stated that on 9/11 “we clearly saw evil through the destruction and the loss of innocent life. The nation’s activities ground to a halt that day.” But in the midst of the destruction, Grose reminded those present that we also saw inspiring moments as first responders– firefighters, rescue, and police– ran toward, not away from, the horrors. He described them as “True Americans.” He recalled the entirety of Congress gathering in solidarity on the steps of the Capitol, churches across the nation opening their doors for prayer, and a determination born in the hearts of the nation “to do everything possible to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

He remembered the emergence of a patriotic fervor after 9/11 which no foreign power should assume has diminished in the political rancor today. He urged his fellow citizens to remember the brave Americans living among us, protecting us, and serving the nation.

He also reminded citizens of the need for spiritual renewal as those thousands who perished on 9/11 had no idea when they left home that morning that it was their last day on earth. Town Manager Barry Thompson said that “we should never forget 9/11; we should keep the events in our hearts and minds— the sacrifice of public servants and innocent citizens and the impact on everyday people.” He mentioned the thousands of survivors of 9/11 who have developed cancer associated with the destruction that day— the tragedy has not ended. Thompson said the message from Patriot Day should be “to forgive, but never forget what happened. As a nation we have always risen against adversity.” Town Clerk Susan Johnson shared the “First Responders Prayer,” thanking God “for giving you strength that exceeds any measure; for giving you courage that allows you to run toward danger so others may be safe; for showing us all, through you, what it means to put others first. We thank God for showing us your bright light in the darkest times.” Assistant Town Manager and Economic Development Pete Peters rang the bell three times in memory of those lost at the three sites on 9/11: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 was purposely downed by the passengers to prevent further destruction. The ceremony concluded with the playing of “Taps.”

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