Think of the horrific images of passenger airliners crashing into the World Trade Center and watching the Twin Towers collapse on live television. Do not forget that lives were lost at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. and in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers forced a plane to crash so terrorists could not reach another landmark.
Sept. 11, 2001 is a date many will never forget if. The terrorist attack led the United States into a global war on terror that is still being fought.
A group of Vietnam War era veterans and firefighters banded together this past Monday, Sept. 11 and held U.S. flags as they stood post on the Main Street bridge over Highway 10 in Coon Rapids from sunrise to sunset.
2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers at the World Trade Center.
“I think it’s important, even if you’re just waving to a kid passing by in a car,” said Ramsey firefighter Adam Gordon. “They may ask their parents what are we doing out here and their parents can say that they’re out there remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
“It’s not every day our country gets attacked,” said Reggie Greene, of Coon Rapids.
Coon Rapids resident Gary Gliniany stood on the Main Street bridge with his 11-year-old grandson. Owen Olson was not even born in 2001, but has learned the history of that day from his grandfather and during U.S. history classes at school.
Gliniany’s granddaughter Taylor was three months away from her second birthday in September 2001. She’s now a senior at Zimmerman High School.
“I think it’s hard for kids to comprehend that there’s certain groups of people that could do this much destruction,” he said. “We have to remain vigilant and strong.”
As the veterans and firefighters stood on the highly visible Main Street bridge on the 16th anniversary of 9/11, drivers zoomed past on Highway 10 and honked their horns and some waved at the flag-bearers.
Others parked and walked over the bridge to personally thank them. One person brought seven 9/11 commemorative coins. One side of the coin showed smoke and flames billowing out of the World Trade Center and the words “We Will Never Forget.” The other side had a bald eagle soaring over the image of the U.S. flag and the date “9-11-01.”
Dan Hanson started organizing this event in 2006 because he felt time was eroding some people’s memories of this day. At one point this past Monday, someone walked up and asked why there were people standing with U.S. flags on the bridge flanked by aerial ladder fire trucks waving large flags. Hanson replied that it was Sept. 11. He saw confusion in this other man’s face until he reminded him that this was the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil.
Hanson remembers every detail of that day. He drove a delivery truck for the Anoka-Hennepin School District and was at the Sandburg Middle School loading dock when a school cook ran outside and said, “Some idiot just flew a twin plane into the World Trade Center.” There was confusion over what was happening that day and some wrong information got reported.
Hanson was watching television when he saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Soon afterwards, his supervisor told him he needed to make his next delivery.
“I remember I’m driving to Ramsey Elementary and I’m crying. It was unbelievable,” he said. “I said to myself that this day is something I’ll never forget.”