More than 200 Juneau residents met at Riverside Rotary Park's September 11th Memorial Saturday morning to honor the thousands who died nine years ago in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
"I had the privilege of serving at Ground Zero on 9/11," psychologist Destiny Sargeant said. "It truly changed my life forever. I believe that I saw the best and worst of humanity, that is how I describe it. But I saw generosity of the American people and the International community that I will never forget, I saw people come together in a way that can never change in my heart."
The Glacier Valley Rotary Club hosted the event. President Connie Sullivan welcomed those in attendance remembering the events that occurred and the sacrifices of those who lost their lives that day and to honor Juneau's first responders.
"These events bring to mind tragedy," said Connie Sullivan, president of the Glacier Valley chapter. "But also gratitude to those who came to assist that day and afterwards."
The memorial at the park features four foot-long sides to represent the four planes lost. The flag points towards the North Star as a symbol for all Alaskans, and forget-me-nots are displayed as a promise to never forget.
"It is important and appropriate that we honor and remember the 2,819 innocent victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001," said Juneau Police Chief Greg Browning. "These innocent people were sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, husbands and wives, co-workers, friends, who were doing nothing out of the ordinary for a Tuesday morning. Three thousand fifty-one children lost a parent that day. Certainly the terrorists' attacks on 9/11 changed our world forever. Four hundred three of the 9/11 victims were police officers and firefighters who took an oath to protect and serve the hardworking public."
Browning also said since 9/11, there have been 22 thwarted terrorist plots in the U.S., but that we can no longer rely on law enforcement alone to keep our country safe.
"In a time of decreasing budgets at the state and local law enforcement levels, it is all the more important that an engaged public act as a force multiplier for our nation's police departments," Browning said. "Many of the 22 plots (were) discovered after citizens reported suspicious activity. All of us, therefore, needs to remain vigilant and cognizant that the next attack may not be aviation related. ... Finally, I think that this ceremony provides all of us in Juneau to pause, appreciate our freedoms, count our many blessings, cherish our friends and our families."
The events of 9/11 were more than personal to JPD officer Kim Horn, who was part of a response team that included JPD Capt. Jerry Nankervis, officers Kim Martin and Paul Comolli, Ketchikan medic Dave Hull and psychologist Destiny Sargeant.
"I think it would be hard to put it into words what it means to me," Horn said, tearing up as she spoke. "It was a life-changing experience. It was an experience where you felt good about helping your fellow law enforcement officer and firefighter, so it was a wonderful experience to be able to go back and help out and to give yourself ... my first thought on arrival though was so surreal, I couldn't really put a handle on how to articulate what you felt."
National Marine Fisheries Service Enforcement Officer Robert Marvelle was watching on television when the events unfolded that day.
"Disbelief," Marvelle said. "I couldn't believe it was happening. Today this is remembering all the fallen heroes of our country. Whether it's the 9/11 memorial or, to me, it's a lot more than that ... it's remembering the fire fighters and enforcement officers."
Capital City Fire and Rescue Training Officer Nathan Young held his young daughter Josephine's hand as he listened to the services.
"It is just like a third of our department disappeared," Young said of that day. "Its no different as you go city to city, the brotherhood of fire, police and military transcends the borders and towns ... when there's a loss it comes right out of our ranks, we feel it."
Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.