Moose mark 8th anniversary of 9/11

Published 6:55 pm Saturday, September 12, 2009

With the American flag hanging high above him, Albert Lea police detective Frank Kohl, a local Moose trustee, on Friday encouraged people to support the country’s troops and first responders.

During what was a special tribute event sponsored by the local Moose lodges on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Kohl recounted some of the events of that day in front of at least 200 people outside Moose Lodge 1703 in Skyline Plaza.

More than 2,900 people died in the attacks, he said, after hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and in a field in Pennsylvania.

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“Sept. 11, 2001, was a day that brought worldwide attention,” he said, describing the attacks as “a deliberate attack on our country’s freedom.”

He encouraged people not to forget it and to support those who protect our freedoms.

Kohl and local Moose Governor Bob Sorenson said the tribute originated not too long ago, when the group started out simply wanting to do a hog roast. After looking through the calendar, they found out the Friday would be 9/11.

“We thought why not make it a tribute,” Sorenson said.

Plans came together smoothly.

Fourteen fire departments out of 16 from around Freeborn County came to participate. The ladder on an Albert Lea Fire Department truck was extended to its capacity, on top of which the American flag waved in the light breeze.

“This night is for them,” Kohl said, referring to the first responders.

All uniform officers and firefighters got in free.

“I hope it gives more respect for all our first responders,” Sorenson said. “They need to be honored daily, not just once a year.”

The evening started out with a memorial service at 5 p.m. by the Rev. Matt Hunley of the Albert Lea Vineyard Church. Local members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Minnesota National Guard presented the colors, followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”

This was followed by a hog roast at 6 p.m. and a street dance at 8 p.m.

At 9:11 p.m. Kohl began sharing remarks with the crowd about 9/11. He encouraged people to remember the troops fighting overseas and to honor the law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders.

He said Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that many people remember. He was in his garage at the time working on his motorcycle when he found out about the first plane that hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Shortly after, he turned on the TV and then saw the second plane hit.

He showed slides with news photos from that day while he sang.

A second video played showing news photos of troops.

Then Kohl went through a timeline of events from 9/11, starting from when the planes left their original destinations, when they were hijacked and when the north and south towers collapsed.

Anniversaries of 9/11 remind people of the “priceless treasures” this country has, he said.

“We’re a free people, and we’re that because of our military and first responders,” Kohl said.

He showed a third video, which illustrated some of the country’s freedoms.

Following the presentation, firefighters and first responders in attendance turned on the lights and sirens in their emergency vehicles.

The area filled with bright lights from the vehicles.

“It just struck my heart,” said Nancy Carlson, one person in attendance at the event.

Carlson said her son, Matt, is in the military and is serving his second tour in Iraq.

“I hope people will remember the Twin Towers and how the troops are fighting for our country,” she said. “A lot of people forget that.”

Organizers said they hope the tribute will become and annual event. They estimated between 400 and 500 people attended at least one part of the tribute. At 9:11 p.m. Friday, a little more than 200 people were present.

The presentation also included check donations in the amount of $500 to Senior Resources for rides for veterans to the hospital, Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial Association and the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association.

Marilyn Borland, with Senior Resources, said the donation will help her organization provide more rides to veterans.

She, too, said she hoped the tribute would become an annual event.

This was the only major tribute happening in the Albert Lea area on the anniversary of 9/11.