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9/11: A Walk To Remember

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Firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel in Galax hold memorial service.

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By SHAINA STOCKTON
Staff

On Sept. 11, the Galax Police Department, Galax-Grayson EMS and Galax Volunteer Fire Department joined together with the community for the first-ever 9/11 Galax Memorial Walk, sponsored by Twin County Funerals.
The event honored both the victims and the responders of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Out of the 2,977 men and women who perished that day, 467 were first responders, said Twin County Funerals director/owner Gregory Rinehart.
Local police, paramedics and firefighters were honored for the work they do to keep our community safe. “The dedication, self-sacrifice and courage that ran through their veins continue to run through yours,” Rinehart said, referring to each department. “It is that courage that makes you run in when everyone else is running out.”
Rinehart also took a moment to share his personal account of 9/11. He was very close to the Pentagon when it was hit, having driven by it only 10 minutes prior to the attack. “Just seeing it was surreal, knowing that this could take place in our nation.” Rinehart said.
Three separate ceremonies were held: in front of the Galax Police Department, the Galax/Grayson EMS station and the GVFD fire house.  Several people spoke at the event, including Police Chief Rick Clark, senior medic Joe Goad, firehouse Chaplain Tom Whartenby and Mayor C.M. Mitchell.
VFW posts #7034, #7726 and #1115 also participated with a flag ceremony, a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps. Aimee Dalton sang the National Anthem before the walk began.
Two flags were given to the police and EMS. The “hero flags” were each inscribed with the names of the 9/11 victims. A ceremonial wreath was presented at each station.
Each ceremony was marked by five bell tolls, which were rung at the same time as the attacks on the north and south towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The walk officially began with the first set of bell tolls, at approximately 8:46 a.m. — the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower.
The community joined in with the walk to each station. The procession was led by the Galax Public Safety Honor Guard, flag bearers and a bagpiper. Business owners and citizens looked on and some stood with their hands placed over their heart as the parade marched by.
Eleven years later, the emotion on the faces of those who walked and those who stood witness were proof of the staggering effect 9/11 continues to have on our nation.
“That day will be forever etched into our memory, along with what we were saying, where we were standing and what we were doing when it happened,” Rick Clark said.
After the ceremony, everyone in attendance was invited to Twin County Funerals for a special community breakfast.