Boy Scouts steadfast in 9/11 homage



Photo 1: Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, an Eagle Scout himself, spoke to honor those who serve as members of public safety departments, emergency responders, and the military.

Photo 2: The President Ford Council made sure that someone was saluting the flag from sunrise to sunset; here a second row waits as Cub Scouts salute.

Photo 3: Ken Chudy, Battalion Chief at the Muskegon Fire Department, proudly wears a medal given him by the father of one of the firefighters killed on 9/11.

Photo 4: An emergency vehicle in the parking lot of the Ford Museum advised people, “Never Forget,” while playing an informational audiotape.

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Most people remember exactly where they were when they heard about the deadly attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

A newspaper columnist tells of going out for early grocery shopping and then racing home just in time to see the second tower collapse. A non-profit programs coordinator will always remember her colleague calling in from the road to say, “Something really big has happened.” A retail store manager recalls searching that evening for an eatery that was open, and being glued to the TV along with the few other patrons at a dismal Chinese restaurant.

The President Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America wants to make sure no one forgets that day, so on Wednesday they continued the tradition they started in 2002 of holding a salute and remembrance ceremony from sun up to sun down on 9/11.

The day started off at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum with a lowering of the flag to half-staff around 7:00 a.m.

At the anniversary of the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center, the Boy Scouts held a remembrance program, where honor guards from around the area joined community members in a moment of silence before listening to a speech by Salvation Army Major Robert Webster.

Throughout the day, tiers composed of scouts of all ages, police and firefighters, soldiers, and members of the community waited their turns to come to the front and salute the half-mast flag as a symbol of their appreciation for the sacrifices made on 9/11.

At noon, Mike Melinn of the President Ford Council introduced Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell to speak honoring firefighters, policemen, emergency personnel and those in the military.

Heartwell told the small crowd that though he was not mayor of Grand Rapids at the time, he often wondered how difficult it would be to have been mayor of a city which had come under such an attack.  He quoted New York’s Mayor Rudy Juliani who said in Dec. 2011, “The attacks of September 11 were intended to break our spirit, instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life.”

Heartwell echoed Juliani’s thoughts, saying, “I call on you to continue to remember, and for us to be strengthened in our resolve to protect those political, religious, and economic freedoms we enjoy.”

He introduced Captain Peter McWatters of the Grand Rapids Police Department who spoke briefly about the recent murder of State Trooper Paul Butterfield and said, despite the risks, he was glad to be part of a profession where “most days are filled with rewards.”

In the evening, just before sunset, Navy Commander Glen O’Loughlin spoke, followed by Zach Hope, the grandson of the popular entertainer Bob Hope, who was famous for entertaining the military through the USO. Bagpipes played and the flag was raised to full staff.

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