Hampton Roads Commemorates 20th Anniversary Of 9/11

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This coming Saturday, September 11, will mark two decades since four commercial airlines were hijacked to carry out suicide attacks on four targets within the United States. It is believed passengers regained control of one of the airplanes before the terrorist mission could be carried out and crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA. One plane hit the Pentagon building in Arlington, VA just across the Potomac River rom our nation’s capital. The remaining two planes slammed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the combined attacks.

To commemorate the solemn day and to remember those who lost their lives, including the brave first responders who responded to the call of duty, area organizations will be holding a variety of events on Saturday, September 11.

Colonial Williamsburg will hold a brief outdoor observance on the steps of the Courthouse in the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area at 8:45am, one minute before American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower on September 11, 2001.

The ceremony will begin with a drum cadence played by a member of the Colonial Williamsburg Fife & Drums, and will include music, prayers, and reflections by community leaders including Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Douglas Pons, mayor of Williamsburg; and Katherine A. Rowe, president of College of William and Mary. After the tolling of 20 chimes to mark the anniversary, the ceremony will conclude at 9:15am with “Amazing Grace” played by a lone bagpiper.

The City of Hampton will hold a Day of Remembrance and Hope beginning at 8:45am at Gosnold’s Hope Park located at 109 E. Little Back River Road. Interested parties can watch an informational video here.

According to a press release from the city, Hampton has strong connections to the military, as home of the first U.S. Air Force Base. In addition, the city contains one of—if not the—largest concentrations of military veterans in the nation.

Those ties moved Angela Leary, along with other concerned citizens and the city’s Parks Department, to begin a tradition that grew to include the gathering of soil from the site of each attack (“the Soils of Justice”) and using those in combination with tree plantings (“the Trees of Hope”). The result is a quiet area of reflection at Gosnold’s Hope Park with trees that allows for reflection on lives lost and hope for the future at any time of the year. A bench and new plantings will be installed this year prior to the event.

This year’s event will begin with the tolling of a bell to mark the time the first plane hit 20 years ago. Formal remarks will begin at 9 a.m. As is the tradition, the event will conclude with a variety of volunteers who will break off and read aloud the name of the more than 11,000 people who lost their lives in that attack and those who died in the subsequent fight against terrorism.

The City of Newport News will hold an “Honor and Remember” event at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport located at 900 Bland Boulevard starting at 10am. The event is sponsored by the Newport News Police Foundation and Huntington Ingalls, and hosted by the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport.

The nonprofit organization Giving Hope in Hampton Roads will hold a “Craft Fair and Thank You” event at Grafton Baptists Church located at 5440 George Washington Highway. The craft show will run from 10am to 3pm. There will also be a car show running from 11am to 2pm. Participants are encouraged to donate money for local first responders. The car show will also feature a “People’s Choice” award where buckets will be placed in front of each vehicle in the show. The vehicle with the most money collected will win a “Best of Show” plaque and all funds will be donated to local first responders. The event is being sponsored by Tidewater Z, Cosmic Catering LLC, and Grafton Baptists Church. Food and drinks will be available for purchase and proceeds from those sales will also be donated.

The annual 9/11 Meet & Greet Breakfast held by the York/Poquoson/JCC Fire Fighters, Paramedics, and Dispatchers has been cancelled this year due to concerns about covid-19.