Sept. 11 remembrance planned

By Lesley Jenkins
Star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com
Despite a $12,000 shortfall in the original donation goal, a remembrance event for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 will be held at Tri-Cities Regional Airport as scheduled. Lee Fish, chairwoman for the event, said even though donations were shy of the $17,000 goal, monetary contributions from businesses have helped Fish and her supporters remain on track for the tribute.
"Some businesses have donated services that were worth much more than money," Fish said.
Fish thought holding the event would cost more; however, because many donations have arrived from companies for services Fish originally planned to pay for, a lack of funds won't stop the program.
More than $5,000 was donated by citizens and businesses, which will go toward the cost of travel expenses for keynote speakers and various other items. Fish said she will be accepting donations until the day of the event.
"We owe it to these men and women," she said, referring to men and women who have served and are still serving in the military.
Fish said she was told by one military official that, since Sept. 11, America has forgotten what happened; therefore, she believes it is important to hold a remembrance event.
An official program for the event will be released on Sept. 5. Preliminary plans include representation from all five branches of the military. Fish has contacted members of the United States Coast Guard but was unsure if a member of that division would be able to attend the event because of geographical distance. All other branches have confirmed plans to attend. Uniform dress is requested for military, law enforcement and emergency personnel attending.
Keynote speakers will be General Gordon R. Sullivan (retired), president of the Association of the United States Army, a former member of The Joint Chiefs of Staff and past chief of the United States Army, and Retired Fire Chief James B. Gargan, who was called to New York after the Twin Towers collapsed and will speak about his experiences. Gargan possesses a piece of fuselage from one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center, and the piece will be set up for the public to view.
Also scheduled is a fly-over of less than 250 feet by two United States Air Force fighter jets. "This will shake the fillings out of people's teeth," said Fish. Air traffic will be halted temporarily for the fly-over, but all other flights at Tri-Cities Regional Airport will continue as scheduled.
The ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2003 at 7 p.m. on the tarmac at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Fish said the airport will be able to seat nearly 3,000 people, and she expects almost 2,000 more to be standing. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, and those attending should arrive by 6:30 p.m. due to security issues. Cameras, umbrellas and foldable chairs will be permitted into the event, but no coolers will be allowed. Northeast State Community College will be providing parking.
If you would like more information about the event please visit www.remembersept11th.com. Those interested in making a donation should contact Angie Guimond, First Tennessee Bank at 423-378-7000 or Fish at 423-247-7193 ext. 29.