Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Until five days ago, no official plans were set in Duluth on the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City until Durbin Keeney—Chairman of the Northland Veterans Services Committee—decided otherwise.
"Through his passion, and his tenacity, and his love of community and country, he wanted to make sure that we would gather—we would assemble—as a community, and remember this very significant day of remembrance," said Captain John Marshall, of the Duluth Combined Honor Guard
Capt. Marshall says, while the U.S. has days for acknowledging all people, big and small—like mother's or father's day—events like 9/11 run the risk of becoming more like a holiday than a day of remembrance.
"These events, like 9/11, memorial day, veterans day, are days that affected every one of us as citizens of this nation. And, if we forget those events, more likely we'll drop our guard enough to where situations like 9/11 can happen," said Capt. Marshall.
City Council President Dan Hartman agrees, saying that, if 9/11 isn't acknowledged on the actual anniversary date, it runs the risk of becoming another memorial day vacation weekend, thus losing its impact.
"We changed it to Memorial Day Weekend. Now, Memorial Day is not celebrated by many Americans. It's treated more as a vacation holiday weekend because of that. I'm hoping that does not happen with 9/11," said Hartman.
...which is exactly why Katy Cruse, of Willow River, brought her 4–year–old son, Patrick, to Tuesday's gathering: "I want my children to know that freedom is not to be taken for granted, and that there are people who die every day to keep us free—to give us our freedom."
Cruse says she wants her children to remember 9/11 by remembering those who continue to die in the war overseas...
"There are husbands and wives [who] leave their family. They give up their lives here to keep us free," said Cruse.
...and our hometown heroes.
"These firefighters, policemen, first responders, EMT's, clergy—they all deserve so much recognition for being there [and] protecting us on a daily basis," said Capt. Marshall.
During Tuesday's event, Duluth Mayor Don Ness said 9/11 is a day to put party politics aside, and remember the unity that was felt by the nation in the days, weeks, and months following the 2001 attacks.