Coloradans marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at several events across the state. Colorado Public Radio Reporters Pat Mack and Jenny Brundin attended two of the largest gatherings and have this report. Here are the transcripts of their reports.
[Photos: Pat Mack and Jenny Brundin/CPR]
Reporter: I’m Pat Mack. Organizers estimated about 35,000 people showed up for an event hosted by Colorado’s Governor and Denver’s Mayor at Civic Center Park. It began with bagpipes.
Sound of bag pipes playing
Reporter: And included reflection and speeches. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Salazar: We’ll make sure the lives of those lost on September 11 will never be forgotten.
Reporter: Colorado Senator Michael Bennet acknowledged the hundreds of police, firefighters and other emergency responders who were special guests at the ceremony.
Bennet: We say thank you, thank you, thank you for your selfless acts of heroism for those who are in range of our voices and those who are on the job today just as they were 10 years ago. We honor their memory and memory of all those who lost their lives on that tragic day.
Announcer: Moment of Silence
Announcer: American AIrlines Flight 11, WTC, North Tower, NYC, 8:46 a.m.
Sound o bell.
Sound of taps
Reporter: 9-11 is still emotional even for people not directly affected, like Michelle Teague of Denver.
Teague: I’m sentimental. I can be a tough cookie but I am sentimental too. Yeah, this is a tough day.
Sound of Colorado Symphony playing
Reporter: The Colorado Symphony performed patriotic music, including Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. The piece was written to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. The symphony’s conductor says it’s a fitting tribute to 9-11 as well.
Reporter: The tone of the day changed instantly when the final act took the stage, billed as America’s Band, The Beach Boys.
Sound of Beach Boys
Beach Boys: We’re so glad to be invited to come party with you this afternoon. Thank you so much. Wow. This is what America is all about isn’t it? Right here. This is a beautiful thing.
Reporter: One man thought the Beach Boys was the right closing act for the day.
Man: I think it’s an appropriate juxtaposition. We had the first half of this day with remembrance and the second half will be celebration and we should celebrate all the wonderful things in this country.
Reporter: I’m Jenny Brundin. In Commerce City yesterday, thousands gathered for the 9/11 Freedom Rally at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The idea was to reclaim September 11th as a time of honoring and helping, instead of just mourning.
[Motorcycle engines revving]
Dave Weaver: Everybody’s remembering the bad things but we’re here to celebrate 10 years afterwards.
Reporter Jenny Brundin: For many like Dave Weaver, it meant joining a 75 mile motorcycle ride to honor those who died. Proceeds from the ride and other events helped raise funds for first-responders, veterans, fire and police organizations.
[Music: Only the lonely]
Man: You have all kinds of cars, classic cars you have hot rods, street rods, modified, modified stock [fade under]
Reporter: There was a classic car show, and down the way a bit, the National Rifle Association was selling tickets to its 100 gun raffle.
NRA Rep: Our first prize is a Les Baer Custom AR 15 with a loop hold scope. Second prize is a Tommy gun with a violin case and a 50 round drum magazine.
[Music: We’ve got a thing called Radar Love, we’ve got a light in the sky]
Reporter: Even with the rock n’ roll, classic cars, motorcycles and food choices worthy of a state fair, nobody seemed to forget why they were there. Jack Gerber helped some remember. He’s standing next to a fire engine in polished black boots and his old New York City fire department uniform. He lives here now and he’s showing some Commerce City police officers the photos he took on 911.
Gerber: See the guys here? Look at how small they are in that pile?
Reporter: When Gerber’s engine company got the call to head to the Twin Towers, he grabbed a disposable camera.
Gerber: We got there about 60 seconds before the first tower fell.
Reporter: The photos are visceral and personal – fire fighters dwarfed by twisted steel and plastic, smoke and flames. Officer Dave Mourey shakes his head.
Mourey: This is the first time I’ve seen candid photographs of this event. Everything else without sounding disrespectful, are glamorized, but to actually see random photographs of what happened there is just unbelievable.
Reporter: Julie Schrock also helped people remember. She sits at a table decorated with pictures of her son Max Donahue. He was a Marine dog handler, killed in Afghanistan a year ago. Copies of a book she wrote called Missing Max lie on the table. She’s grateful for the 911 remembrance but 911 is also the reason her son is gone.
Schrock: The first time Max ever mentioned signing up was several days after 911 and he said, “Mom, if I was old enough, I’d be signing up.” And I said “Honey, as an American woman that makes me proud but as your mother, that scares me to death.”
Reporter: That conversation happened when Max was 14. Five days after his 19th birthday he signed up.
[John Rockefeller talking about one of the men]]
Reporter: At a nearby table, John Rockefeller stands at the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association table. He’s a Vietnam vet. He was a member of a 7-man gunship airplane that was shot down. Three men died. On 9/11, Rockefeller remembers watching TV when the second plane hit the tower. He started having flashbacks. He saw his airplane hitting the ground. Events like Sunday’s remembrance help him.
Rockefeller: It helps heal the wounds.
Reporter: Today, Rockefeller stands near a striking site. On the Dick Sporting Goods stadium’s green field are ten thousand American flags fluttering in the wind. They represent those killed in the 911 attacks and in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Rockefeller: That’s about ten thousand flags too many. But that’s also the price of freedom too, so. Every day the price of freedom’s too high.
Reporter: While organizers didn’t get the 25,000 attendees they’d expected, they’re hopeful to be passing thousands of dollars on to public safety and other charities.
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