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9/11 memorial focuses on positives

It was a subdued crowd that gathered on the lawn of the Veteran's Memorial in New Richmond on Sunday, Sept. 11. Fire engines stood to the side. An American flag towered over the entire proceedings from its perch atop the fire engine ladder that stood extended to the sky.

The gathering was a memorial to the 9/11 events 10 years ago. Representatives from the police, EMT and fire departments were there, along with municipal officials, military personnel, church leaders and community members.

Curtiss Thomassen, pastor of the Cornerstone Assembly of God on Heritage Drive, led the crowd in an a capella version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The crowd rose en masse, some with their hands over their hearts, others saluting.

Police Chief Mark Samelstad commented on the positive things that occurred from 9/11.

"If there have been any positives out of it, it's that government - local, state and federal - are working together cooperatively for this nation," he said. "We rebound and pull together."

Alderperson Jane Hansen spoke on behalf of Mayor Fred Horne. She addressed the aftermath of the events.

"Does anyone remember 9/12?" she asked. "It was a no-fly day; we were just all here on the ground, as Americans. Nothing was up there in the sky - it was odd, but peaceful."

1st Sgt. Tony Zimmerman, of Company B, spoke next and assured the crowd that safety is still paramount.

"When the EMT, fire department and police put on their vests in the morning, they don't know if they are coming back, but they do know they are going out there to save a life," he said. "It's an honor to be on that line. Your National Guard will be there on a moment's notice - all 132 soldiers. We have volunteered to protect this community. If someone tries to cross that line, 'you won't do that on my watch.'"

Ed Everson, assistant fire chief of New Richmond, spoke on behalf of the fire department.

"With every tragic event, there has been a positive," he began. "Before this event happened, I think we were taking things for granted. We should never take freedom for granted - it's been fought for for many years."

Pastor Mike Evans of the Faith Community Church, closed the memorial by leading the crowd in a prayer.

"Thank you to those who serve us. Thank those who demonstrated courage that day by running into danger when others fled. Thank you for the bravery they have shown."