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City plans Sept. 11 memorial

Hood River City Police Chief Tony Dirks is organizing a service to remember the fallen heroes and victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

“We want to acknowledge the role both firefighters and police played, as well as the loss of civilian life,” said Dirks. “This memorial ceremony is really a four-pronged effort that is also intended to pay tribute to the military personnel who were put in harm’s way as a result of the terrorist actions.”

The short service will begin at 9 a.m. at Overlook Memorial Park, and the intersection of State and Second streets will be closed off to accommodate the crowd. Master of Ceremonies Lynn Guenther, a decorated Vietnam veteran, will introduce keynote speakers Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, and Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, and representatives from all area fire departments, law enforcement agencies and veteran service organizations.

A color guard from the Oregon National Guard will then stand at attention while Dirks and Hood River Fire Chief Gary Willis lay a commemorative wreath at the foot of the pillar depicting the names of Hood River’s war dead. A bag pipe solo will take place during what Dirks has termed a “patriotic moment of remembrance.” That soliloquy will be followed by a minute of silence.

Dirks is also urging Hood River County residents to stand united with other citizens from across the nation on Sept. 11 and wear red, white and blue to work or school. He believes that patriotic showing will pay respect to the families of the victims and honor the efforts of the heroes who worked to save them.

“I think it is important that we never forget those sacrifices,” Dirks said.

More than 3,000 people died in the worst terrorist attack on American soil. The majority of these victims were killed when two hijacked jets from Boston crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 11. The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 carrying 92 people, was flown into the north tower about 8:45 a.m. eastern time and exploded. The second aircraft, United Airlines Flight 175, a 767 carrying 65 passengers and crew members, hit the south tower about 20 minutes later. Both buildings collapsed within the next hour, sending up a huge cloud of debris and dust and crushing more than 300 firefighters who were at work inside.

At 9:43 a.m. the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., was struck by American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 carrying 64 people. About 15 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked from Virginia, crashed to the ground in Pennsylvania. An investigation later revealed that the terrorists were overcome by several of the 45 riders who were determined to stop a fourth tragedy.

Shortly after 1 p.m. on that tragic day, President George W. Bush addressed the nation from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and said, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

After blaming Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida terrorist network for the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States launched an offensive against his stronghold in Afghanistan several weeks later.

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