At 11 a.m. on Friday, members of Lebanon's American Legion Post 51, several distinguished guests and members of the public gathered at the flag pole to remember the lives which were lost and the bravery which was shown on Sept. 11, 2001.
The featured speaker at the event was Steve Adams, commander of the American Legion Department of Oregon.
He outlined the events of that morning as first one plane and then a second hit the towers at the World Trade Center in New York City. This was followed by a third plane which crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Adams reminded those in attendance of the 3,000 lives that were lost and the many more which were devastated by the loss of their family members, friends and colleagues.
Adams focused on the passengers of Flight 93 who had learned of that morning's terrorist attacks and realized their plane had been hijacked for a similar purpose. Passengers on the plane attacked the four hijackers, which ultimately led to the plane going down in a field in southwest Pennsylvania.
"They saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives," Adams said. "We now know that plane was heading for the Capitol."
Jim Willis, the former director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, recalled that he was driving in the Cascades on that day. As he listened to the radio he realized that something important had happened in New York City, but the reception was too poor to understand any details.
As soon as he heard the news of the attack in full, he immediately returned to Salem to join his colleagues in ensuring the defense of important public facilities in Oregon.
Willis remembered that as the events unfolded, all flights were grounded. This led to many people being stranded in airports as they waited for flights to resume. This included many Americans who were stuck for several days in Canada waiting to fly to their destinations.
Willis said it was important to remember the many Canadians who stepped up to offer food, lodging and assistance to these stranded travelers.
Following the featured speakers, Larry Williams, the vice-commander of post 51, lowered the flag to half mast to honor those who were lost on that day.
Williams said he has long felt that Lebanon needed to host its own events on these national days of remembrance. This first 9/11 commemoration was held at a difficult time of social distancing due to COVID-19 and hazardous local air quality due to the raging wildfires.
But he is hopeful this event and others like it will continue to grow in the coming years.
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