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The community is invited to attend the second annual 9/11 Memorial Service on Sept. 11, beginning at 10 a.m. in front of the Galax Police Department.
This year will mark the 12th anniversary of the tragedy, when America witnessed a terrorist attack that resulted in nearly 3,000 lost lives.
The event is hosted by Twin County Funerals, which introduced the ceremony last year to thank the area’s first responders.
Gregory Rinehart, co-owner of Twin County Funerals, has a close tie to the tragedy, having been near the Pentagon when the plane hit it that afternoon. “I was in the parking lot of a funeral home in Alexandria, when we heard the explosion at the Pentagon,” he said. “Later in the day, when we were directed near there, we could still see it on fire.”
The staff at Twin County Funerals was inspired to do something in honor of the area’s first responders on the 11th anniversary of the nation-wide crisis. Last September, crowds gathered in different areas downtown for the event, waving flags and offering salutes to responders as they marched in a remembrance walk through downtown Galax.
“There were a lot of officers who came into the funeral home [after last year’s event], and asked us to keep it going,” said Rinehart.
This year, the planning for the event has taken feedback into account, and the funeral home staff hopes that more people will find the ceremony accommodating this year. “It will be a less strenuous event... everything will be at one location,” said Rinehart. Last year, the remembrance walk caused issues for some people in attendance, who could not participate because of age or disability. “This year, we wanted to limit it to a central location at the police station courtyard. That way, everyone can come out and stand, or bring a chair to sit in, or whatever they need,” Rinehart said.
Instead of visiting other first responder locations, the ceremony will include representatives from these agencies, along with representatives of Grayson County and Carroll County.
“This is the first time anything like this has ever been done in our area. That makes us so proud that we can begin something like this, and keep it going for years and generations to come,” said Twin County Funerals Office Administrator Jessica Talley.
Rinehart hopes to see the event grow as it continues every year. “It’s the beginning of something that needs to grow, because you can’t forget what took place on 9/11... this country has never been the same,” he said.
Speakers for the event will include Gregory and Stephanie Rinehart, Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell, Galax Police Chief Rick Clark, a representative from the Galax-Grayson EMS Department and a speaker from the Hillsville Fire Department. Carolyn Honeycutt will perform the National Anthem and lead the Pledge of Allegiance, “Taps” will be played by the Grayson County VFW and the Hillsville VFW will provide a 21-gun salute.
The Galax High School Band will perform “America the Beautiful.”
Twin County Funerals thanked Officer Kevin Hall of the Galax Police Department for his help in organizing the event. Hall took the responsibility from Sgt. Chris Brown, who retired at the end of July.
The Galax Police Department is located at 353 North Main Street in downtown Galax. For more information, contact Twin County Funerals at (276) 236-9009.