Saturday marks two decades since terrorists hijacked two commercial airliners from Boston’s Logan Airport and crashed them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and a third that took off from Dulles Airport and crashed into the Pentagon.
In the hours that followed, Loudoun’s fire and rescue crews joined the response at the Pentagon; air traffic controllers at the FAA’s Air Route Control Center in Leesburg scrambled to get all planes in U.S. air space on the ground; and local law enforcement agencies scrambled to defend against attacks on other potential targets. During the ensuing weeks, as the skies over Loudoun remained eerily empty of the familiar jet traffic, residents began learning that some elements of life would be changed forever.
For the county residents, the healing process began with a massive vigil in the county’s courthouse square and it is that element of reflection and remembrance that has become an annual rite in many Loudoun communities.
This year, those events are expected to take on added significance.
The first community event planned is the Town of Leesburg’s remembrance ceremony at the town’s Freedom Memorial, located at Freedom Park. The brief program begins at 8:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to attend the ceremony is encouraged to arrive early. The park will remain open to the public until 9 p.m. for those wishing to visit the memorial on their own.
The Town of Purcellville will hold its ceremony starting at 9 a.m. at the First Responders Monument near the Bush Tabernacle. The monument includes a steel beam recovered from Tower Two of the World Trade Center and a stone from a barn near Shanksville, PA, the site of the Flight 93 crash. The Virginia Army National Guard, 29th Division Band Brass Group will be part of this year’s ceremony. Deputy Police Chief Dave Dailey, who was among the first responders at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, will be the keynote speaker.
Also in Purcellville, residents may hear the tolling of the newly functional bell at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The bell will ring 20 times at the time each of the four planes went down: 8:46, 9:03, 9:37, and 10:03 a.m.
Lovettsville will hold its annual Patriots Day program at the veterans memorial on the town square starting at 8:30 a.m.
A new event this year is the Freedom Celebration, sponsored by One Family Gives, the philanthropic arm of One Family Brewing Company.
From noon until 9 p.m., a benefit concert will be held on the brewery grounds just south of Lovettsville at 12851 Lutheran Church Road. The event will feature country music performances from Nashville’s Noah Garner, U.S. Marine Mike Carrado and Lovettsville native Joey Hafner. Tickets range from $10 to $40, with proceeds going to the Woody Williams Foundation to build a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument in Chesapeake and to HeroHomes to build a home for a wounded warrior and their family in Loudoun County. For details, go to onefamilybrewing.com.
During September, the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg will participate in September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World, a digital educational exhibition presenting the history of 9/11.
The exhibit covers its origins and ongoing implications through personal stories of those who witnessed and survived the attacks. Archival photographs and images of artifacts from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s permanent collection will be available for viewing.
It also explores consequences of terrorism on individual lives and communities at the local, national, and international levels, and encourages critical thinking about the legacies of 9/11.
Developed and curated by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, this exhibit is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy Demands Wisdom. Also included are materials related to 9/11 experiences and memorialization in Loudoun County. The digital exhibit will be on view in the Library’s John Divine room during regular library hours.