Story by Jane Parikh of the Michigan Crossroads Council
Record crowds turned out in downtown Grand Rapids last month to participate in the 14th annual 9-11 Community Day of Remembrance and Scout Salute to honor the victims of the 2001 attack and the first responders who rushed in to provide relief efforts.
Among those in attendance were about 2,700 Boy Scouts with the President Ford Field Service Council who saluted an American flag flying above the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum from dawn to dusk at three-minute intervals.
Matthew Hogg, Program Director with the President Ford FSC, said the turnout was the largest since the event began in 2002.
“Originally this was designed to remember the events of 2001,” Hogg said. “In the last couple of years we’ve put the emphasis more on looking at the sacrifices that emergency responders and the military make every day to make it more relevant to new generations of Scouts.”
Those in attendance were also able to speak with firefighters who served at Ground Zero on 9-11, and see actual pieces of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the attacks. The exhibit was made possible through the Steven Siller Tunnels to Tower Foundation.
“The exhibit talks about the events of 9-11 and focuses a lot on New York and also on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania and the plane that crashed into the Pentagon,” Hogg said. “People were able to talk to the folks who were there and get an idea of what it was like from the guys who were actually there.”
In addition to this unforgettable memorial experience, attendees had the opportunity to learn about general fire safety precautions, potential fire hazards, and the correct way to deal with them through a mobile kitchen. The traveling trailer, which housed the kitchen, also provided visitors with a unique perspective into what it’s like to battle an actual fire.
The Community Day of Remembrance also included a non-denominational worship service in a park near the museum which included remarks from representatives with the Grand Rapids Police and Fire departments, Life EMS, and the Salvation Army.Hogg said the Final Salute included a volunteer with the American Red Cross; Brigadier General Mike McDaniels, who is also an Eagle Scout; Wayman Britt, President of the PFFSC Board of Trustees; and Kevin Nichols, PFFSC Scout Executive.
“We closed it out with the tolling of the bells for the firefighters who died on 9-11,” Hogg said.
Special thanks to Public Relations Director (West) Jane Parikh of the Michigan Crossroads Council for submitting this story.
Many BSA councils across the country demonstrate remembrance through their own memorial traditions. Veterans Day is coming up on November 11! Contact your local council here to find out how Scouts are celebrating in your area.