Hood River will honor 9/11 heroes and victims

Hood River will host two “red, white and blue” events today in remembrance of more than 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

But both ceremonies — one in the morning and the other in the evening — are also intended to celebrate the strong American spirit that emerged from the unprecedented devastation.

Local citizens are asked to show their patriotism by wearing the national colors to the 9 a.m. Memorial Ceremony at Overlook Park and the blended performance of the Sweet Adelines and Friends and Neighbors choirs at 7 p.m. in Jackson Park.

“After one year, we are all still coping with the magnitude of these attacks. I am humbled to be asked to help the community pay our respects to those who lost their lives and honor the countless heroes who helped us to recover,” said Sen. Rick Metsger, who will be one of two keynote speakers at the morning commemoration.

The intersection of State and Second streets will be closed off for the program as representatives from all area fire departments, law enforcement agencies and veteran service organizations gather with citizens. Master of Ceremonies Lynn Guenther, a decorated Vietnam veteran, will introduce Metsger and Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, who will also make a short presentation.

“This is a day to remember the victims and reflect on what this means to our communities and our country,” said Smith. “It is also a time to renew our commitment to ensuring that we recognize the heroes among us and I am honored to be able to participate in a meaningful way.”

A color guard from the Oregon National Guard will stand at attention while Police Chief Tony 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 terms a “patriotic moment of remembrance.” That will be followed by a minute of silence.

(Also at 9 a.m., at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital chapel, a bell will be tolled to remember those who died as a result of Sept. 11.)

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At 6:30 p.m., the Hood River Fire Department will fire up the barbecue grill at Jackson park to offer dinner to those in attendance.

“I would invite everyone to bring their family and make an evening of it,” said Virginia Hosford, Sweet Adelines spokesperson. To open the evening program, Boy Scout Troop No. 378 of Odell will raise the flag to half-mast at an official ceremony.

The local chapter will join sister organizations around the world in the “Sing Out for Peace,” that offers a wide range of selections. The all-women’s choir will then be joined by the Friends and Neighbors Chorus in a “simple but powerful” presentation of traditional American favorites.

During a break in the music, Pastor Dan Armstrong from the Hood River Valley Christian Church, who also acts as emcee, will deliver a non-denominational “Honor, Reflect and Remember” message.

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