On Sept. 11, two years will have passed since the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center claimed more than 3,000 lives. Officials put a lot of thought into how the county could best honor the day, and the lives lost.
“We want to remember, but we don’t want to dwell on that day either, because it’s still very painful for a lot of people,” said Charles Taylor, a spokesperson for the county.
This year, Arlington will host three Sept. 11 memorials, including a flag ceremony at One Courthouse Plaza, a world music concert and the second annual Arlington Police/Fire/Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K on Saturday, Sept. 6
The run drew thousands last year and raised about $40,000 for charity. “The expectation is to have a similar size event as we did last year, and hopefully raise a little more money for 9-11 charities,” said Arlington police Capt. Matt Smith, who serves as co-director of the race, along with detective Dan Borrelli.
LAST YEAR’S RACE proved emotional for many involved, said Borrelli. “It wasn’t just people showing up because they wanted to run a 5K,” he said. “It was people bringing their families, their kids, their friends, because of the day, and because they wanted to support the cause.”
Borelli and Smith expect some 3,200 runners and hundreds of volunteers from throughout the country, to support the cause this year. Members of the National Guard will cook hotdogs and hamburgers for runners. Local restaurants will donate pizza and other refreshments, and a radio station will provide live music broadcasts to keep the runners motivated.
Race t-shirts quickly became a collector’s item last year, so organizers improved the design for this year’s run. “We want to make it a big event that’s worth of the cause,” said Smith.
Proceeds will go to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Pentagon Survivors’ Fund, the Port Authority World Trade Disaster Relief Fund and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college tuition for children of Special Operations soldiers killed in the line of duty.
WITHOUT A NATIONAL holiday, county offices will be open for business on Thursday, Sept. 11. But officials will start the day with a ceremony in front of Courthouse Plaza.
A color guard will unfurl the flag, and firefighters will ring a ceremonial bell 184 times—once for each victim of the attack on the Pentagon. Officials are also asking that residents, businesses, schools and places of worship join in displaying American flags across the county on Sept. 11.
“It will be something simple, yet dignified, that recognizes the sacrifice of innocent lives on that day, and the unselfish acts of bravery on that day and the days that followed,” said Taylor.
Some residents have already seen an increase in patriotic displays. “You see people with their flags, and that’s a good thing,” said Crystal Davis. Because she works at an office near the courthouse, Davis will be able to attend the brief ceremony at Courthouse Plaza.
Others aren’t as lucky. Vince Scatamaccia won’t be able to get away from his job to attend ceremonies, but said the events will be important to the community. “I’m sure they’ll be appropriate and in good taste,” he said.
ALL THREE EVENTS are open to the public. Anyone can register for the 5K up to race day. The starting gun fires at 6 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City, but Borrelli encourages residents to register there the day before, between noon and 8 p.m.
“Coming Together,” which organizers bill as “a cultural reflection on post 9/11 life,” will take place at 6 p.m. on the Sept. 13 at the Netherlands Carrillon. The concert will feature performances by Grammy-nominated contemporary classical group The Kronos Quartet; Caribbean reggae band, Inner Visions; traditional West African music and dance performers Cheick Hamala Diabate and Ensemble; and acoustic South American folk group The Mystic Warriors.
Liz Canner will also preview “Moving Visions,” her public-art, oral-history film project reflecting on post-Sept. 11 life.