The grief Sept. 11 brought will continue to resonate in the minds of District residents, but people have maintained resilience despite the shadow cast upon the country 10 years ago, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said at Freedom Plaza.
“This is the anniversary of a very tragic time in the history of this nation, a very tragic time in the history of this city,” Gray said. “We intend to recognize what happened here 10 years ago but we intend to go on with our lives.”
As 50 individuals marched across the plaza holding each state’s flag to open the tribute, community organizations from across the District gathered at Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 14th streets to focus on remembrance through different activities.
One station called for attendees to write letters to servicemen and women, while another videotaped individuals who recounted their 9/11 memories and condolences for those whose lives the attacks took.
Groups also hosted a station to construct a “remembrance mural” that will be placed at Ground Zero in New York City.
Alumnus Billy Fettweis, the director of volunteer services at Greater D.C. Cares, said the event was a success and captured the “spirit of empathy and compassionate service that so many of us felt after 9/11.”
“I think that the tragedy brought out a lot of good in people,” Fettweis said. “They really wanted to give back, they wanted to alleviate the suffering by doing something good.”
Norton also reflected on the sentiment to give back during the anniversary, thanking city residents “for all that you are doing in a wonderful tradition of service on this 10-year anniversary of 9/11.”
The event also offered activities for children, including different games, mathematics puzzles and dance classes.
For adults, organizers held seminars on emergency preparedness, CPR lessons, sign-ups to become emergency volunteers and outreach programs.
“As you see around you in Freedom Plaza, there are people who are touched and motivated,” Gray said. “We have set the example for the rest of the country and the world to live together in courage and hope.”
The tone of the event was one of solace, as visitors engaged in the activities and reflected on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that brought down the Twin Towers and slammed a plane into the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 Americans.
“I am really glad to come out and see people who still remember what happened 10 years ago,” Sean Beaudry, who attended the event, said. “I know people, we all know people who died on that day. This is the least I can do.”