Photo credit: Janet Franics

Community Gathers in Remembrance

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Thursday September 15, 2016

On Sunday evening, September 11, first responders and members of the South Burlington community joined in solidarity for the annual 9/11 remembrance service at Overlook Park. Together, they honored the innocent lives lost, those who made the ultimate sacrifice to save their fellow Americans, and those who continue to live with the impacts of the tragic events that took place 15 years ago at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Organized by the South Burlington Fire Department (SBFD) every year, the local firefighters, police, and EMS personnel helped present the service. Set against the backdrop of the sun setting over Lake Champlain, the Color Guard marched up the path toward the onlookers and stood at attention as guest speakers shared their memories, their gratitude, and their respects.

“When we remember lives lost, we must strive to not let anger and fear define us,” Police Chief Trevor Whipple said. “Tonight, we are an example of the human spirit.”

“September is a month of changes, and 15 years ago, our profession and our country were permanently changed,” Fire Chief Doug Brent said, . . . “this September, I hope the changes we experience in this year coming will be positive. We need more love in this world. We need more acceptance.”

SBFD Capt. Gary Rounds, who is credited for starting the remembrance ceremony tradition, shared his sentiments of how it all began.

“It was a couple of days after 9/11, and I think South Burlington was the only community that wasn’t doing anything. I was on duty that day, and guys were calling the station, saying, ‘What are we doing?’ I said there’s nothing planned. I decided, let’s come up to Overlook Park.” He continued, “I remember standing here when we came up that first time. The flag was pretty beat up . . . and I remarked that night that the flag may be torn and ripped, but it’s still there, and we’re still here.”

Former City Manager Chuck Hafter recalled the day Rounds asked if the department could use Overlook Park, “I made a lot of hard decisions during my time as manager; that was not one of them. It was very easy to say, ‘we need to get together as a community.’”

Subsequently, Hafter and the SBFD formally awarded and recognized Rounds for his dedicated service.

Sunday night’s ceremony was also marked by prayer, and performances by the Champlain Echoes. At one point, the crowd joined in, singing “God Bless America” in unison. With that, the Color Guard turned toward the darkening sky, a reminder that the sun will rise again. As a community, we will never forget.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent