Remembering the fallen, 17 years after 9/11

September 11, 2018

SPEARFISH — It was 17 years ago today that the history of the United States, and the world, changed: Hijacked airplanes hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon and crashed near Shanksville, Penn., on Sept. 11, 2001, resulting in 2,997 deaths and more than 6,000 people wounded.

To remember and honor the citizens and first responders who lost their lives that day, as well as all service members who have lost their lives in the wars that have followed, the Spearfish Fire Department, American Legion Post 164, and the Black Hills Chapter of the American Legion Riders hosted a Patriot Day Remembrance Tuesday morning at the Spearfish Veterans Monument.

“We lift to you in prayer all those who died in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania, and in the wars that followed,” Father Clay Riley of the Episcopal Church of All Angels prayed during the invocation. “We entrust them to your love and care, and so their families, and friends, and all who mourn this loss in the hope and trust in you, find peace and rest in your care. Please protect our first responders, veterans, and active duty service members who have answered our country’s call. For all those who gave their lives, remember with gratitude and courage and devotion to duty.”

The ceremony began with the Striking of the Four Fives by the Spearfish Volunteer Firefighters’ Association Honor Guard, a custom originating in New York City before the advent of radios or pagers, when fire alarms and daily announcements were dispatched from central headquarters to outlying firehouses by a system of bell commands and telegraph.

When a firefighter died in the line of duty or when some important official or person died, headquarters would transmit five bell strikes, repeated in four series, with a slight pause between each series, followed by the announcement, and the custom has continued. It renders final honors to departed comrades, and the Striking of the Four Fives was followed by a moment of silence.

The Black Hills Chapter of the American Legion Riders then posted the colors, raising the flag, which was followed by the National Anthem. A memorial wreath was laid at the site, and the Spearfish Veterans Honor Guard provided a volley and taps.

Spearfish Fire Chief Mark Sachara thanked everyone for coming and quoted Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address: “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Mayor Dana Boke also spoke, describing that high school seniors this year have always lived in a world changed and shaped by 9/11.

“We remember all those we lost, nearly 3,000, and those who sacrificed in the wars that followed,” she said. “Today we pay tribute to their lives. It is through quiet gestures such as this that we honor their memory and the heroic sacrifices of our firefighters, rescuers, law enforcement, and military and we continue to reclaim our world. Not only do we honor those who went before us, but we honor those in our midst. The firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, veterans, active military. Your … sacrifices continue to give us security, calm our fears, and … we thank you. It is our collective obligation to ensure that the principles of honor, sacrifice, compassion, courage, and hope endure and as a true tribute, may we all live lives that stand up to that same hope.”

Kris Sachara, chaplain of American Legion Riders, provided the benediction.

“This day does not pass the calendar without our remembrance. We remember the heroism of the many who have lost their lives … It is only right that it should not pass from our memory,” she said, praying, “Lord, grant us peace.”

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