9/11 20th anniversary commemoration ceremony, 10 a.m., Saturday, September 11, at Norelius Community Library in Denison
Twenty years ago on Saturday, on what would have otherwise been a beautiful, sunny Tuesday morning, Crawford County residents, like all other Americans, watched in disbelief as they saw television coverage of a Boeing 767 jetliner crash into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Eighteen minutes later it became clear that the crash could not be rationalized as an accident but an attack on the United States when a second Boeing 767 jetliner hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.
The horror continued and grew in magnitude as a third passenger jet crashed into the west side of the Pentagon and then first the south and then the north towers of the World Trade Center collapsed.
In between the collapse of the towers, a fourth hijacked passenger jet crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
September 11, 2001, became more than just another day on the calendar. It became 9/11, a remembrance of the horror of the terrorist attacks, a resolve to never let it happen again, and a celebration of the heroism shown by those involved in the rescue attempts at the twin towers and the heroism of the passengers that caused the fourth hijacked jetliner to crash into a field instead of a political target.
And for 20 years, the commemoration has continued to honor the service men and women who have died in the War on Terror.
Locally, a 20th anniversary commemoration ceremony will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. on the main floor of Norelius Community Library in Denison.
Following is the order of the program on Saturday.
Opening comments by Monica L. Walley, HMC, USNR, Retired, director of Norelius Community Library
Pledge of Allegiance
National anthem performed by Cathy Fredericksen
Invocation by Merle Mahnken, pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Schleswig
A Call to Remember by Aaron L. Hoffman, MGySgt. USMC, retired, deputy senior program manager, Joint Multinational Training Command
Roll call: Denison Mayor Pam Soseman
God Bless America performed by Cathy Fredericksen
Benediction by Merle Mahnken
The roll call will be 98 names long. Of that number 12 servicemen died stateside and one died in Guam.
Area servicemen who will be remembers in the roll call are GT Casey Byers, of Vail; SSG James Justice, of Manning and Manilla; and LTC Paul J. Finken, of Earling.
In addition to the ceremony, the library is host to “Remembering Our Fallen,” a traveling photo memorial of Iowa’s fallen in The War on Terror, The memorial display was brought to Denison by Norelius Community Library in collaboration with the Office of Veteran’s Affairs of Crawford County, which is the financial sponsor for the display. It will remain at the library through September 18.
Less than a week after September 11, 2001, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley observed his 68th birthday speaking to and listening to students at Denison High School and speaking to a Rotary Club meeting in Carroll.
Grassley was in the basement of the U.S. Capitol taping radio broadcasts when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked. He was in the basement about the time that the jetliner which crashed into the Pentagon was circling the Capitol building.
An article in the September 18 Denison Bulletin had these quotes from Grassley: “By 9:30 or 9:35 a.m. I went to my office and someone said to me, ‘You’d better be on your toes. The Pentagon was hit.’ It was about five or 10 minutes later that they evacuated the building.
“I’ve felt, since World War II, secure here in the United States, and all of a sudden you have the realization that, whatever you want to call what happened Tuesday, can happen. For the first time in my life I saw fear in the faces of people where I’ve never seen fear before.”
Grassley invited three volunteers among the Denison High School students to come to the front of the high school’s Fine Arts Center to give their reactions to the terrorist attacks.
Henry Nixon said, “I thought we were the United States, the biggest country in the world. It shocked me. We spend all that money on defense, and it didn’t do any good.”
Chris Skoog commented, “I thought, ‘What else is coming up. Where else can they hit us.’ I thought more would have come. My next thought was what is U.S. going to do? Will they call up the draft? My grandfather was in Korea. He was in high school. Will the same thing happen now? Going through the school day, I couldn’t think of anything else except there were 5,000 people in the World Trade Center towers buried in rubble.”
The third volunteer, Molly Breen, said, “My main concern is how are we going to retaliate. People were saying. ‘Let’s go bomb them.’ But if we do that (bomb all the people in the terrorists’ country), how does that make us any better than them? Friday the homecoming parade was cancelled and people thought this was terrible. But think about people buried in rubble; it doesn’t compare.”