March honors victims of 9/11, soldiers
Published: September 12, 2013
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ST. CROIX - It was a day of remembrance and reflection Wednesday as the territory paused to pay tribute to the thousands of people who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Dozens of residents from the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, Central High School ROTC and V.I. National Guard joined the nation in the America Supports Your Freedom Walk to remember 9/11 victims and honor members of the military, past and present, who protect America's freedom. The walkers held patriotic signs and flags and some wore shirts in honor of the memory of those who died.
A half-dozen shiny red fire engines brought up the rear of the walk, driving slowly as Virgin Islands and American flags blew from their hoods.
Following the walk that slowly proceeded from Bassin Triangle down King Street and across Hospital Street to the American Legion's Post 85 in Gallows Bay, a ceremony began with V.I. Fire Service Cpl. Kevin Christian striking the traditional four-fives on a bell to signal the beginning of the program.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. was the keynote speaker and described Sept. 11, 2001, as the day everyone's life changed. He asked those in attendance to always remember the sacrifices that were made and to never forget the selfless service that continues to be displayed today in the name of freedom and liberty.
He said the hundreds of first responders and the thousands of soldiers who have been killed or wounded in the war against terrorism beginning on that day should never be forgotten for what they have done. He added that we should all live our lives with concern for fellow men because no man is an island and no man knows when his journey will end or how.
During his address, St. Croix Deputy Fire Chief Corey Kent reflected on the moment 12 years ago when he saw the live national news coverage of the terrible attacks. He said his crew was getting ready for training that had coincidentally been focused on search-and-rescue, and as they saw the crashes play out first in New York, then Washington, D.C. and then Pennsylvania, they talked of how difficult such a search-and-rescue would be in a structure that large.
"Three hundred of our own brothers gave up their lives and taught us what it really means to be heroes," Kent said.
St. Croix Deputy Police Chief Arthur Hector reminded those in attendance that the community and the nation can never become complacent, and every citizen must do his part to protect the freedoms and liberties we all enjoy.
"Many sacrifices were made, and they should never be forgotten," he said. "We must, however, remain united to protect our home front."
American Legion Post 85 Chaplain Monroe Edwards, who also is a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, said the territory has been reminded with the attacks that change in life is inevitable and life is unsure.
"We were blindsided in those attacks and we are not out of the woods, we can certainly be hit again," he said.
The names of 9/11 victims who had connections to the territory were read out loud, and those family members present were given flowers of recognition.
The ceremony wrapped up with the laying of a wreath outside the Legion Hall, a 21-gun salute and the ceremonial playing of "Taps."
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.