Photo: Stephanie Sanyour
Nearly 3,000 lives were lost 10 years ago and the state of Iowa does not forget. In remembrance of each of the lives lost on 9/11, nearly 3,000 flags stood tall at the grounds of the Capitol on Sept. 11.
“We’ll never forget where we were ten years ago today,” said Michael Bousselot, policy advisor for the governor. Commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety Larry Noble honored the 9/11 victims in a speech.
“Every person that died on that day died a hero,” he said at Sunday morning’s ceremony called “Remembering Our Past, Securing Our Future.”
Along with Bousselot and Noble, the ceremony featured remarks from Gen. Timothy Orr of the Iowa National Guard, Brig. Gen. Derek Hill of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management division, Barry Ferguson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Gov. Terry Branstad.
The governor expressed in a highly emotional state that “it’s important that we remember the tragedy and that we are still being threatened.”
The speakers had one goal in common: to bring a sense of alertness and readiness to the audience.
“The prize of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Orr said.
Hill added that in order to remain vigilant of our friends and neighbors we need to follow four steps: Stay informed, be alert, create a family emergency plan and put together an emergency supply kit.
“We have a responsibility to prepare for whatever may happen,” Hill said.
Branstad ensured the audience that “we work with our local counties to make sure that we are ready.”
To conclude the ceremony, Branstad laid a wreath at the foot of the Statue of Liberty replica. The wreath was made by Margaret Hough and Camille Valley and is made with 2,977 millimeters of blue ribbon to represent the number of lives lost on 9/11; 13,000 inches of red ribbon to represent the number of Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen deployed since 9/11; and 84 white flowers to represent the number of military members who have lost their lives on active duty since 9/11.
People of all ages and backgrounds gathered early on Sunday morning to remember 9/11, a meaningful day for people like former marine and Iowa native John Turner.
“It means a lot to me that almost 3,000 people were killed in the attack, and I just want to remember them and show my respect,” Turner said.
Others were too emotional for words, like Jeff Traviss, the assistant scout master of Boy Scouts of America. In a high state of emotion, Traviss was able to express with tears welling up in his eyes that 9/11 made him get more involved in the community and that it’s important to “remember the lives that were sacrificed that day.” The Iowa State Patrol, Des Moines Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Des Moines Fire Department, Boone Fire Department, Indianola Fire Department, Iowa National Guard and Patriot Guard Riders of America also participated in the ceremony.
In addition to the five speakers, the ceremony featured performances by Simon Estes and Linda Juckett.
The event was free and open to the public, and the flags have been waving in remembrance since last Wednesday when WHO Radio and the United States Air Force placed the flags on the Capitol grounds.