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Emergency crews stage 9/11 tribute to fallen heroes

September 6, 2006

Hood River County emergency responders are inviting community members to honor the fallen heroes of Sept. 11, 2001, at a fifth anniversary memorial service.

The Monday evening event has been organized by firefighters and law enforcement agencies with logistical assistance from American Legion Post 22.

“This is our opportunity to pay respects to the 343 brothers and sisters that died that day,” said Hood River Asst. Fire Chief Devon Wells.

The program begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 with a parade of emergency service vehicles from the Wal-Mart parking lot through downtown Hood River. The vehicles then pass under a gateway formed by two ladder trucks along the Second Street Extension just south of the Expo Center.

The ceremony at the waterfront facility, 405 Portway Ave., starts at 7 p.m. with a video of the tragedies at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

A processional led by the Oregon State Police Honor Guard then marches to formation on the western end of the building. Featured units include: Hood River Fire Department, Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, Hood River City Police Department, Odell Fire District, West Side Fire District, Inter-tribal Fisheries Enforcement, Oregon State Police, Cascade Locks Fire Department, Parkdale Fire District Dee Fire District and Pine Grove Fire District.

“It has been five years since more than 3,000 people died and we need to never forget the sacrifices made by firefighters, police officers and hero citizens who tried to help them when disaster struck,” said Police Chief Bruce Ludwig.

Once the ranks of emergency workers are in place, Mayor Linda Streich welcomes the audience. She provides an overview of the day that America sustained mass casualties through a multi-pronged terrorist attack.

Gary Young, director of spiritual care at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, gives the invocation.

Oregon Rep. Patti Smith takes the podium as mistress of ceremonies. She will give the timeline of that fateful morning and then turn the microphone over to Wells, Ludwig and Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler.

Also speaking are retired Army National Guard First Sgt. Leroy Himes and Roger Nelson, an American Red Cross volunteer who traveled to the disaster scene at the Twin Towers within 24 hours of their collapse.

“We decided to help out with this program because it offers local residents an opportunity to thank the people who have pledged to put their own lives on the line when duty calls,” said Legion Commander Denny Leonard.

Numerous Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops have volunteered to help pass out programs that have been designed by Anderson’s Tribute Center in Hood River.

Also expected to perform that night are members of the Highland Guard Pipers and a brass quartet that will play the National Anthem.

The service closes between 8 and 8:30 p.m. with a rifle salute by an honor guard from the Hood River Armory and Taps by trumpeter Kate Brownback.

Elks Lodge 1507 has planned a private dessert buffet following the ceremony for the emergency service workers and their families.

For more information on the 9/11 Tribute to Fallen Heroes call Ludwig at 387-5257, Wampler at 386-2098 or Hood River Fire Chief Jeff Walker at 386-3939.

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