The 17th Annual 9/11 Day of Remembrance and Scout Salute took place on Tuesday at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum to honor the lives of those killed during the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
The day was filled with events to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and Flight 93 that crashed Pennsylvania.
Scouts from the Boy Scouts of America were in attendance throughout the day to salute the flag. For most, the Scout Salute was an opportunity to learn about those who lost their lives during the attacks even if they didn’t live through it.
“We started a dusk to dawn community day of remembrance and Scout Salute, and that’s just to help our kids understand,” Program Director of Boy Scouts of America Matthew Hogg said of the troops in attendance at the museum. “Originally it was to remember the people that lost their lives on 9/11, but a lot of the kids now weren’t even born when that occurred. So we’re trying to help them understand the impact of that day on not only those of us who are older but also how it translates to police, fire, EMS, military personnel and their day-to-day life, and understand that those are the same people who ran into those towers so we can explain to them the sacrifice that those guys make, and ladies make, on a day-to-day basis.”
Don Converse, 33, of Hastings, attended the event with his two sons who are presently in the Boy Scouts. The Day of Remembrance had a deeper meaning for him as he attended not only as a den leader with his sons, but also as a firefighter.
“I’m a firefighter and so 9/11 was pretty big,” Converse said. “I was in 10th grade when that happened.”
Attending the Day of Remembrance is important to him and his sons and he said they plan on returning as for as long as they can.
“This is our third year that we’ve been doing this,” he said. “We’ll do it all the way through until we’re out of scouts.”
Assistant Scoutmaster Chris Sorenson, 52, of Byron Center remembers where he was during the attacks and will not forget what it meant.
“I was actually in Chicago that day, and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life,” Sorenson said. “I was driving through Chicago, so I heard it on the radio. I never saw it on a TV until I got to my hotel that night, and I’ll never ever forget the horrible feelings that came through on that day.”
Parents, like Kimberly Hudson, 42, of Grand Rapids, were faced with explaining what happened on 9/11 and the importance of remembering. Hudson stopped by the museum on her way to a nearby bus stop when her son, 6-year-old Jonathan, asked to place a flag in the ground to honor those who died.
“He asked me on the way here what happened in 2001, so I tried to explain it to him,” Hudson said. “For the fallen, the people that died, he wanted to pay a tribute and put a flag down. I was trying to think about what to tell him because he’s only six years old.”
Hudson found the words to explain to her son the tragic events of that September morning in the end.
“It was just so horrible the way they died and it’s something we’ll never forget,” she said. “I guess it’s best not to shield them from what really happened. I don’t go into the details about it, but it’s important to honor the people that died. It just feels like the right thing to do.”
The day concluded with a performance by The Salvation Army Brass Band and remarks by retired Brigadier General and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Strategy, Prevention and Mission Assurance Michael C.H. McDaniel and Dr. John Fox, president of the Boy Scouts of America President Ford Field Service Council.
A final Scout Salute was given to the American flag waving outside the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and was raised to full staff following the day’s events.
Editor’s note: Collegiate staffers Lillian Linscott and Brooklyn Andres contributed to this report.