Remembering 9/11

September 14, 2011 11:20 am


Brookings Police Reserve Officer Terry Axel and Marine Corps League member Mike Noonan salute.
Brookings Police Reserve Officer Terry Axel and Marine Corps League member Mike Noonan salute.
Pride, appreciation and sadness mixed Sunday at Azalea Park as 200 people gathered to honor those who died in the 9/11 terror attacks.

The third annual 9/11 Concert and Candle Light Vigil was hosted by the Brookings-Harbor Red Shirts. President Sharon Hitzman said it’s important that people never forget the tragedy that killed almost 3,000 people 10 years ago.

“We added the band to make it a little more upbeat,” she said. “Every year it gets a little better.”


The Spence Brothers Band got things off to a rousing start at 4 p.m. with a concert that had people tapping their feet to the rhythms.

But the day was more for reflection than dancing, and things quickly shifted to a series of speeches recalling the horrors of 9/11.

“Time has not minimized the shock and outrage,” said State Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach. “We know the Muslim extremists show no remorse for indiscriminate killing of men, women and children.

“How can they justify their actions? What is their mind-set?”

Krieger said the military is doing well in the ongoing fight against terrorism “given the enormity of the task.” He praised the Red Shirts for strongly supporting the troops, ending his talk by saying, “We are the United States of America and we will prevail.”

Dick Weber, representing the Marine Corps League, urged the crowd to remember those painful events and to work for peace, along with an end to racism and homelessness.

“We offer gratitude and hope,” he said. “We still wrestle to make sense of a senseless act, and it sometimes seems overwhelming.”

One of the event’s high points came when local first responders assembled and received applause from the crowd.

“I felt very emotional when they did that,” said Paula Wiltse, vice president of the Red Shirts. “These people mean a lot to our community.”

Frank Muller of the Red Shirts told the crowd that more than 400 first responders died in connection with the attacks.

A symbolic table stood before him, and Muller explained the significance of its white cloth (the victims’ innocence), a red rose (their blood), a lemon on a plate (their bitter fate) and an empty chair (they are not here).

Priscilla and Ken Parnell watched the ceremony while sitting on a blanket spread out on the park lawn. Her purse carried a small American flag.

Neither has forgotten the images they saw on television the day of the attacks.

“It felt like a movie,” Priscilla said. “My heart just sank.”

“It was unreal,” Ken agreed.


He added that a friend was working outdoors, just blocks from the twin towers, and saw the second plane strike the building.

Priscilla said the concert and vigil was particularly meaningful to them because their grandson, 2007 Brookings-Harbor High School graduate Jonathan Jenkins, will be deployed to Afghanistan next year as a combat medic. 

Local representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard presented the colors during the vigil’s opening ceremonies. Dave Hitzman led the Pledge of Allegiance and Pam Carrier sang the national anthem.

Tom Shine played several tunes on his bagpipes, including “America the Beautiful,” while several military veterans stood and saluted.

There was lots to eat, from cookies to hot dogs, and the Red Shirts sold T-shirts, Red Shirt hats, military hats and car magnets.

Raffle prizes were given out and Brookings Presbyterian Church won the $2,000 award. Diane Rowley accepted for the church, which had donated an unsolicited $500 for raffle tickets. The church has been a longtime supporter of the troops, putting together 500 stockings for those overseas at Christmas.