West Michigan to remember September 11 victims with Healing Field memorial

3,200 American flags will fly in honor of 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

In the 10 years since our nation was rocked by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that changed America, communities across the country have been holding tributes to the 3,200 lives lost on that day. This time, on the 10th anniversary of the horrific event, the Healing Field comes to West Michigan and to Rockford.

The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE), local communities and area businesses have teamed together to bring Colonial Flag Foundation’s Healing Field memorial to West Michigan. From September 9 to 13 at Cannonsburg Ski Area, 3800 Cannonsburg Rd., Belmont, 3,200 American flags will fly to honor the victims of the infamous attacks including the 21 victims from Michigan. The West Michigan Healing Field is one of 16 Healing Field memorials that will take place across the country for the 10th anniversary of the attacks, and will be open to the public 24/7.

The 3,200 flags will be flown on eight-foot poles. Each three-foot-by-five-foot flag will be placed in perfectly aligned rows as a highly visual way to comprehend the sheer enormity of lives lost in the attacks. Each flag will be tagged with the name, story and age of a victim in the attacks. Members of the community can sponsor a flag for $75, which they can take home with them after the event. All proceeds will benefit first responder organizations as designated by RACE.

“Three thousand American flags together will make an incredible impact,” said Art Johnson, CEO of United Bank and honorary chair of West Michigan Healing Field. “And when you sponsor one of those flags and take it home with you, that will be a different feeling. It’s honoring and remembering that individual whose name is attached to your flag. That’s what families of victims want—for us to remember their loved ones.”

The event is still in need of flag sponsors. To sponsor a flag, please visit www.healingfield.org/west-michigan-2011 and support local first responder organizations. The flags are also available for purchase at all United Bank branches.

The public is invited to walk through the flags on the hills of Cannonsburg Ski Area during West Michigan Healing Field. Special programs and events will be scheduled throughout the five days of the memorial. Events are free to the public and the memorial will be open 24 hours a day.

Event Details:

• Friday, September 9, 2011—“A Rise to Glory” (open press)

• 8 a.m. to noon—Volunteers, including approximately 100 Rockford High School students, will be staking 3,200 individual American flags to begin the West Michigan Healing Field memorial. The name of each victim will be read aloud during the “Rise to Glory” ceremony.

Attending will be Johnson, Representative Peter McGregor of House District 73, Rev. Robert Winter of Faith Baptist in Greenville, Rockford High School

Ensemble/Chamber Singers, Supeitendent of Rockford Public Schools Dr. Michael Shibler, Kent County Sheriff’s Department, and bagpiper Michael Gunn

• Saturday, September 10, 2011—“A Salute to Heroes” (open press)

• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.—“A Salute to Heroes” program will honor rescue personnel and first responders. The community is welcome to come out and support local West Michigan first responders as well as fire and police safety units for their service to our communities.

Attending will be Johnson, Chief David Peterson of Plainfield Fire Department, Metro Honor Guard Lieutenant Paul Anglim, Boys of the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys, and Kent County Commissioner Roger Morgan.

• Sunday, September 11, 2011—“A Day to Remember” (open press)

• 8:46 a.m.—A moment of silence commemorating the crash of American Airlines Flight 11

• 9:03 a.m.—A moment of silence commemorating the crash of United Airlines Flight 175

• 9:43 a.m.—A moment of silence commemorating the crash of American Airlines Flight 77

• 10 a.m.—A moment of silence commemorating the crash of United Airlines Flight 93

• Noon—Rockford American Legion will hold a memorial service honoring and remembering the victims of 9/11. Attending will be the Wyoming National Guard, Juliet Dragos of WZZM 13, American Legion Commander Clyde Sinclair, Rockford Mayor Steve Jazwiec, Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma, Plainfield Charter Township Fire Chief David Peterson, Michigan State Police Lieutenant Chris McIntire, Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus, Cannon Township Fire Chief Jim Morris, and bagpiper Sam Peterson.

• Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 12-13, 2011—“A Lesson Learned”—Students and field trips are welcome to participate in the 2011 Patriot Day Arts Festival to help them understand and learn from an event that they may not be old enough to remember. Students may use any form of expression to pay tribute to those Americans whose lives were lost—categories include essays, photographs, visual arts and music compositions.

Bagpiper Dave O’Neil will play at sunset each day of the event at approximately 7:30 p.m., Friday through Tuesday.

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