Volunteers from Fort Lee participate in a previous Richmond Day of Service and Remembrance project. (Photo courtesy City of Richmond)
Richmond’s annual 9/11 remembrance takes on additional significance this year with the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York and Washington, including more than 400 first responders.
Now in its fifth year, the public event begins Friday, Sept. 9, at 8:30 a.m. outside 900 E. Marshall St., with the ringing of bells, a color guard appearance and a moment of silence. Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, will address the gathering and Richmonder Evan McKeel, a finalist on “The Voice” singing competition, will sing. CPR and fire safety instruction will be offered, and people will be able to tour the city's Mobile Command Unit.
"It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years," Jones says, in a preview of his remarks. "When I think about that morning, it always feels so familiar; and I don’t know anyone who can’t recall exactly where they were when the attacks happened. We stood then, and we stand today united against evil. We've turned this day into a tribute to those who lost their lives, a tribute to perseverance over fear, a tribute to love over hate."
In honor of the police officers, firefighters and paramedics who lost their lives trying to help victims at the World Trade Center, attendees are invited to climb the stairs at City Hall from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.
Through the Neighbor to Neighbor program, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers will spend time on service projects. Paul Manning, Richmond's chief service officer, says those include sorting household items for CARITAS, an organization that addresses homelessness, re-mulching the playground at UMFS (United Methodist Family Services), cleanup and painting at Highland Park, washing cars at two police precincts, and weeding and pruning at Bryan Park.
Another event begun in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks is the RVA Peace Festival, an interfaith effort that takes place Saturday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It includes a panel discussion on Promoting Peace and Unity in Our Communities, as well as music and dance performances, crafts, exhibitions and food vendors.
Coming next weekend is a daylong forum called “Reclaiming Our Democracy: 15 Years After 9/11,” organized by the Richmond Peace Education Center (RPEC) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, to be held at the University of Richmond. (Read our recent interview with Larry Syverson, one of the speakers, part of a preview of that forum.)