PARKVILLE, Md. - The oft-used sentiment born from the tragedy that was September 11, 2001 is “never forget.”
It’s the reason why organizer Chuck Ritz has hosted a memorial vigil for 9/11 for the last three years in Parkville.
“We made a promise to never forget and we’re sticking to that promise even 12 years later. Look at the turnout tonight. … These people haven’t forgotten,” Ritz said, standing in the parking lot outside of McAvoy’s.
But what if you weren’t old enough to remember that awful day?
Ritz made a point to acknowledge parents who brought their kids to the vigil.
“Thank you very much for bringing your children and teaching them a history lesson—showing them what being proud to be an American is,” he said addressing a crowd of about 200.
John Kluver’s son Brenden Kluver was 2 years old when terrorists attacked New York City.
“I just want to see what has gone on for the last 12 years, how everybody was affected by this,” Brenden, now a freshman at Eastern Tech, said. “In school in seventh grade we did reports, and watched videos. I didn’t know a lot when I was little, but I do now. It’s bad. I’ve never heard of anything like it [and] I never want to experience anything like it. … I’ve never seen a dedication like this. It’s crazy.”
Liz Mohan, a mother of two, brought her 11 and 8 year olds to the vigil.
“I explained to them what happened that day—how the towers collapsed. When we got here it was about the firemen and how every flag represented someone who died,” she said.
She referred to the 2,977 flags comprising the Path of Honor that lined Putty Hill Avenue near Parkville High School.
“It was a nice learning experience for them,” Mohan said. “It’s nice to see a neighborhood come together like this.
“They’ll definitely remember this,” she continued. “My daughter feels less comfortable in these kind of things but my son very much likes to participate in stuff like this. He enjoys the fire trucks and the camaraderie of something like this. It’s something very meaningful to him. … Part of life is dealing with things that make you uncomfortable so that’s why we’re here.”
Steve Paca, wearing a custom made motorcycle embroidered with a patch that read “Never Forget” in big white letters above a bold American eagle, has volunteered for the vigil for all three years.
He was part of the 500 motorcycle riders that took to Baltimore three years in honor of 9/11. He said his then-11 year old son rode with him.
“And he was honored to do it,” Paca said.
Paca explained to his son what 9/11 meant, not sugar-coating the message, when his boy was just 11 years old.
“I tell him it was the worst day in America. It was a horrifying experience,” Paca said. “I’m glad there are so many young children out here today and their parents are letting them know what happened.
“My boy was 2 years old when it happened,” Paca continued. “I rushed home to be with him because you didn’t know what was happening.”
Brother David Schlatter, founder of the Remembrance Bell Project, rang the bell as the names of the 120 soldiers who died fighting in the wars since 2001 were read aloud. Candles flickered. The Harford Highlander Pipe and Drums played. Firefighters stood at attention.
Then Stan Modjesky sounded his bugle. The five-year Maryland National Guard Honor Guardsman played out the vigil as the sun finally set on Parkville.
How do you tell your kids about 9/11? What do you say to them? How do you put into context what living in a post-9/11 world means? Start the conversation in the comments section below.
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