Chatham Hosts 10th Anniversary Tribute to 9-11 Victims & First Responders

Blogmaster Post 7313 - 9/1/2011

Chatham County joins with first responder organizations and the Chatham Parks Foundation in hosting a special tenth anniversary tribute to the victims and heroes of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. Slated for Sunday, Sept. 11, at 3 pm at Joy Baptist Church, the tribute also will honor the vital role of first responders in protecting communities and individuals.

Joy Baptist Church is located on US 64 at the intersection of Bower Store Road, about six miles east of Siler City. The church will have room for about 300 people inside and out under tents on a first come, first served basis."We have worked as a team to offer an inspirational ceremony as well as a chance for residents to view items commemorating the tragedy," said County Commissioner Pam Stewart. "We are pleased that we can again display the piece of the World Trade Center donated for a planned memorial, but we also will feature special artifacts from local residents who have connections to the 9-11 tragedy."Stewart said the ceremony itself serve as an opportunity to not only honor the victims and heroes of 9-11, "it also will give residents an opportunity to pay tribute to current and retired first responders and local members of our armed forces."

Three individuals from the area with unique connections to 9-11 will offer their personal reflections on the tragedy:

  • Joe Dittmar, a county resident who was in a meeting on the 105st floor of the World Trade Center on 9-11;
  • Peggy Williams, a Pittsboro native now living in Sparta who joined her husband in working at Ground Zero for several weeks as disaster relief workers with the Red Cross; and
  • Robert Young, who lives just a few miles from the county and is retired from the New York Police Department.

The Chatham County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard will have a special role in the tribute. "As expected, the Honor Guard will present the colors, play Taps and dedicate a wreath in honor of those who died," said Sheriff Richard Webster. "We are so proud of our Honor Guard and its contribution to this historical tribute."

The Chatham County Firefighters Association will make a special presentation and also will ring a bell in honor of first responders lost during 9-11.

Fire Marshal Thomas Bender will lead a segment to honor all first responders attending. "This is a rare opportunity for all of these agencies to be represented and honored as a group. We expect to have representatives of all fire departments, law enforcement agencies, rescue squads, Emergency Operations and First Health ambulance services."

Mark Scott, former county fire marshal, is working with all of the first responder groups in surrounding the donated World Trade Center piece with vehicles and personnel.

Attendees will be updated on plans to create a permanent 9-11 Memorial to display the donated World Trade Center piece. "We continue to make progress in identifying an appropriate location, but we want to make sure we have everything in place before we announce a site," said Commissioner Stewart. "It is also important to remind people that we plan to build the memorial with private contributions, not county funds."

Joe Fraser, the chair of the county's Recreation Advisory Committee who initiated the effort to secure the World Trade Center piece, will provide a brief overview of the journey of the donated steel beam to Chatham County.

Don Lein, president of the Chatham Parks Foundation, will highlight fundraising efforts, including ways that residents and businesses can provide funds to build the memorial. Tax deductible contributions can be sent to: Chatham Parks Foundation, PO Box 986, Pittsboro, NC 27312, but note that donations are for the 9-11 Memorial.

After the ceremony ends around 4 pm, attendees are invited to view the World Trade Center piece and other artifacts from 9-11 provided for viewing by area residents. "People have been so generous in offering important items for display," said Lein. "We will have an area inside the church set aside, but it is important for people to know that they should not touch these items."

Stewart said that the planning team searched for a tribute site on US 64 between Siler City and Pittsboro that could accommodate as many people as possible. "The leadership of Joy Baptist Church not only offered their facilities for the event, they have gone way beyond our hopes in meeting the needs for the tribute, including providing tents, chairs, outdoor speakers and church volunteers. We are so grateful for this generous support."

Bender looks forward to the tribute uniting a wide cross section of residents and first responders, who rarely get to meet each other in non-emergency situations.

Fraser concluded, "We are so fortunate that Chatham County received a piece of the World Trade Center through the efforts of many good people, including volunteer firefighter Jody Allen, who donated his time and truck to join the Fire Marshal in escorting the beam from New Jersey to North Carolina. Jody is a great example of the quality of people who serve as first responders and put their lives on the line regularly."

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