Event set to remember 9/11 tragedy

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

BLOUNTVILLE -- "Remember...Salute...and the Ultimate Sacrifice" was announced today to be to be hosted by the 9/11 Regional Event Committee, Tri-Cities, State of Tennessee. The event is dedicated to the nation's public servants, freedom, and all branches of our military, veterans, their families and offer remembrance for those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
   The event was an idea by Lee Fish, chairman of the 9/11 tribute. It has grown into an event including a speech by the former Chief of the United States Army, a firefighter's personal testimony of experiences at the World Trade Center and a flyover by the United States Air Force.
   The ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2003, at 7 p.m. on the tarmac at the Tri-City Aviation and the Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Fish expects to seat nearly 3,000 people and expects almost 2,000 more to be standing. The seating is first available, and people attending should arrive by 6:30 p.m. due to security issues. Featured musical guests will be The Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band.
   The event will begin at 7 p.m. when keynote speaker General Gordon R. Sullivan (Ret.) will address those in attendance. He is the President of the Association of the United States Army, a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and past Chief of Staff of the Army.
   Another keynote speaker will be retired fire Chief James B. Gargan -- who was called to New York after the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Gargan will speak of his experiences. While he worked at the towers for weeks after the attack, he found one of the few, intact large pieces of the plane's fuselage that struck the World Trade Center towers, which he will bring with him.
   Fish added about Gargan, "He is a firefighter extraordinaire. He was called to Ground Zero within minutes of the collapse of the Twin Towers. He spent weeks there . . . and he will speak of the time and what he discovered at Ground Zero. His story of magnitude and devastation is unlike anything you have ever heard before."
   The United States Air Force will provide a tribute flyover during the ceremony while air traffic is halted.
   In order to provide this event free of charge, monetary donations are needed to cover the $17,000 budget. "Members of the public have asked 'What can we do to get involved?' If they want to make contributions, that will certainly will be welcome," Fish said. First Tennessee Bank has established a fund for this event called "9/11 event."
   If you would like to make a donation, please contact Angie Guimond, First Tennessee Bank at 423-378-7000. "Your contributions make all the difference in the world," said Fish. "We have three weeks. Do not wait to join in this force." Without donations and support from area businesses, Fish is afraid the event might be canceled.
   Because of security risks, coolers will not be allowed at the event. Cameras and umbrellas will be admitted in case of rain. A Web site has been established specifically for the event at www.remembersept11th.com.
   Uniform dress is requested for military, law enforcement and emergency personnel attending.