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Under an early morning mist Thursday, more than 60 people gathered around a year-old monument at Riverside Rotary Park to mark the second anniversary of a national tragedy.
People who were starting their day on Sept. 11, 2001, didn't know the horror it would bring, Capital City Fire and Rescue Chaplain Sam Dalin told the crowd. The ceremonies were organized by volunteer firefighters. The audience was dominated by people in police and firefighting uniforms.
For 343 of the firefighters who responded to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Sept. 11 would be their last day on the job, Dalin said.
They knew they had to go in there, he said, and "they never knew they wouldn't come out." One firefighter killed in the World Trade Center couldn't be buried until this week, because it was so difficult to identify the remains, Dalin said.
Dalin stood beside a monument dedicated Sept. 11, 2002, from the Juneau-Glacier Valley Rotary Club in remembrance of the tragedies. "Forever may this flag wave in freedom," the plaque reads.
Bagpiper Doug Gardener played "Amazing Grace" and trumpeter Robin Stevens played "Taps," as Douglas fire station volunteer Zach Walker lowered the flag to half-staff.
"Today I ask you to reach out to somebody and say, 'Hey, it's going to be OK,'" Dalin said.
When the ceremony concluded, area resident Martha Penrose, wearing an inches-wide American flag pin on her chest, walked over to Walker, reached her arms up around his neck and gave him a hug. Walker didn't ask why, but the two exchanged smiles.
"I just thanked him for what he does," she said, before going on to hug others in uniform.