Community gathers to honor 9/11 anniversary

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter


Updated: September 11, 2013, 8:36 PM


9/11 observance

• East County Fire & Rescue: A granite memorial will be dedicated at 7:30 p.m. at Station 91, 600 N.E. 267th Ave. There will be a lighting of luminaria at 8 p.m. and a reading of the names of first responders who died on 9/11. There also is a spaghetti dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Station 91.

Across the nation

Obama pays tribute to the fallen of Sept. 11, 2001

Community members joined fire, police and government officials in front of Vancouver City Hall on Wednesday morning to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died during the Sept. 11 attacks 12 years ago.

About 50 people gathered for the short ceremony, which included a speech by Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and a ceremonial bell ringing to honor the 343 firefighters who died responding to the attacks. The combined Vancouver Fire and Vancouver Police Honor Guard raised the American flag to half-staff.

“Years later, we are reminded of and share the grief that family members and colleagues still bear for their loss and collectively, our loss,” Leavitt said to the crowd. “While these memories and our loss is painful, it is apparent that our nation has emerged wiser and more aware of the world around us.”

He called for community members to continue to honor the patriotism that followed the attacks by reaffirming commitment to patriotism, volunteerism and community involvement.

Judi Bailey, who manages Vancouver’s neighborhoods programs, said that she remembers going through her normal routine on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I didn’t know my whole world was changing,” she said. Now, Bailey said, “I have a renewed sense of appreciation for first responders and the sacrifice they’re willing to make.”

During the ceremony, Vancouver Fire Capt. Perry LeDoux rang a silver bell, a tradition used during firefighters’ memorial services.

Wearing his dress blues, LeDoux said that over the 12 years of commemorating the victims of the attacks, his feelings about the event have in some ways changed and in some ways stayed the same.

“Time softens it,” he said. “The memories get softer, but it’s still there. It’s not as raw, but it’s still there.”

Other firefighters said they felt similarly on the day — that it is impossible to not think of those who ran inside the doomed buildings in an attempt to save those inside.

Vancouver Fire Capt. Darin Weaver remembers he was finishing his overnight shift when he got the news that commercial planes had been hijacked and crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City.

“It’s been a long time, but it’s still pretty vivid,” he said. “Every year, I see the images of the towers burning, and I know exactly what those (firefighters) were thinking,” he said.

If put in the same situation, Weaver didn’t hesitate when he said he’d run into the towers, too.

“It’s what we do,” he said.