People throughout the United States stopped to remember our losses on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. This national day of remembrance seemed an appropriate way to start this second 30 Funerals in 30 Days Challenge.
Daniels Family Funeral Services created a Twin Towers memorial at their Vista Verde Memorial Park in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. They held a 10-year commemoration there “To Remember Those Who Lost Their Life That Day – September 11, 2001.”
The event featured many different elements of memorialization and patriotic display: the Posting of Colors, the National Anthem, a dove release, a ceremony to bury artifacts of concrete and steel from Ground Zero, a candle lighting ceremony, Amazing Grace on bagpipes and Taps by a lone bugler on a hillside.
The dove release was part of a national effort for 9/11 called White Wings Over America, which hope to do the “largest white dove release the world has ever seen.” Paula Fay, owner of Enchanting White Doves, released 46 doves that day. More than 2,500 doves were pledged for release in the effort.
One thing about working with live creatures in ceremony, though – they don’t always do what you expect them to do. Paula opened the doors to the dove chapel, a sort of oversized doll house, and three doves stood there looking kind of surprised. They didn’t take flight until the roof was raised and the other 43 doves took off.
The placement of the concrete and steel artifacts from Ground Zero was conducted with the utmost respect. A scroll bearing the names of the 2,998 people who died as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 was also placed in the small vault at the base of the Twin Towers memorial.
The scroll had been on display. In the ceremony, it was carefully rolled up, sealed with sealing wax, and placed in a velvet bag which was placed in the metal box with the Ground Zero artifacts. The memorial marker placed at the base of the Twin Towers near the artifacts reads, “Through blurred eyes we find the strength and courage to soar beyond the moment. We look to the future knowing we can never forget the past. God Bless America.
Following the placement of the scroll, there was a Final Alarm Ceremony, signifying the end of duties to final rest for the 243 fire fighters and 43 police who lost their lives on September 11. This special system of bell commands created by the New York Fire Department consists of five rings done five times.
The Final Alarm was followed by the reading of the First Responder’s Prayer, which was handed out on laminated prayer cards:
Lord, give this First responder courage
Courage to face and conquer their own fears.
Courage to go where others will not.
Give them strength.
Strength of body to protect others.
Strength of spirit to help others.
Give them dedication.
Dedication to the job, to do it well.
Dedication to the community to keep it safe.
Give them concern for those who trust them.
And compassion for those in need.
And please, Lord, through it all, be at their side.
There was a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence before a pipe and drum team marched in playing Dawning of the Day and then Amazing Grace. At the end, a lone bugler standing on a hillside covered with almost 3,000 small American flags played Taps. The several hundred people who attended the one-hour service applauded at the end.