Three Loudoun County towns are commemorating the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, with ceremonies that will honor those who died in the terrorist attacks that day, including the first responders who sacrificed their lives trying to save others.
Leesburg, Lovettsville and Purcellville have scheduled events Sunday marking the anniversary.
Leesburg Mayor David Butler said the memorial events are particularly meaningful in this area because so many people were affected by the attack on the Pentagon.
“Either they know someone who worked at the Pentagon, or they have friends or relatives that were directly affected as one of the responders,” he said.
Leesburg’s ceremony will include music performances by Loudoun County High School student Kimberly Swift, who will sing the national anthem, and Alison and Jordan Lily of the Catoctin School of Music, who will play a medley of patriotic songs on flute and cello, town spokeswoman Betsy Arnett said.
The program will also feature a speech by Butler and a prayer led by the Rev. Jim Wishmyer of Leesburg United Methodist Church. Bagpiper Tim Kirkpatrick will conclude the ceremony by playing “Amazing Grace,” Arnett said.
Leesburg has had a 9/11 remembrance ceremony every year since 2002. Loudoun Supervisor Kristin C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), who was mayor of Leesburg from 2002 until January of this year, recalled that the town had a ceremony in 2001 shortly after the attacks.
“It struck me that this was something that we needed to continue,” she said.
In addition to local residents, the annual ceremonies have attracted people traveling through the area who were looking for a Sept. 11, 2001, remembrance ceremony, Umstattd said.
Lovettsville will have its Patriot Day event at the Town Square Veterans Memorial, town manager Laszlo Palko said.
Mayor Robert Zoldos II will lead the proceedings, which will include moments of silence followed by sirens to mark the times when planes crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania, Palko said.
The ceremony will have speakers talking about their experiences that day. Audience members will also be invited to express their thoughts and feelings, Palko said.
Purcellville’s annual 9/11 Remembrance will place an emphasis on honoring first responders, Town Manager Robert Lohr Jr. said.
The ceremony will be near the entrance to Fireman’s Field, where the town’s permanent memorial to 9/11 and first responders was dedicated five years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Bradley J. Quin, president of the Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company, will be the guest speaker. Quin will discuss his experiences working with the fire company on the day of the attacks. Mayor Kwasi Fraser will also speak, Lohr said.
Fraser said that it is important “for us to be able to bring out the folks in Purcellville to mourn the deaths, but also to recognize the sacrifice and the heroism of the first responders that day.”
The ceremony is intended not just to honor those who died, Lohr said, but to be “a living memorial to people that served and continue to serve” as first responders or with the military.
“Hopefully, our memorial and our program will not only recognize and pay due honor to the people involved, but also encourage and promote people to go out and be first responders, and step forward and help people,” Lohr said.
“This will never leave our minds,” Fraser said. “It’s etched in our minds, and we just want to make sure [people remember that] evil was met that day with sacrifice, kindness and care, and of course ultimately, that justice was served.”