City will host a formal ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Willamette Park
West Linn resident Dean Suhr wants you to remember. He wants you to remember the billowing clouds of fire, ash and smoke. He wants you to remember the ladders, helmets and looks on firefighters faces. He wants you to remember the towers, both falling, and the world that for one day, was fixated on the same ghastly image on the television screen.
For almost a decade after 9/11, West Linn and Oregon City held joint remembrance ceremonies on the arch bridge, during which both mayors released a large flag to hang from the bridge and tossed wreaths into the river. The public observed in silence and tossed their own flowers.
In 2010, the event was canceled because of scheduling issues and bridge maintenance. So Suhr took up the planning reins, spearheading an effort in conjunction with the city of West Linn to relocate the ceremony.
I would label myself as a strong patriot, Suhr said. I fly the flag, I go to Memorial Day observances, I respect the office of the president no matter who is in party and I love our country.
Patriotism does not come from the federal government. It comes from perspective, from history, from learning and observing, and it starts at home in the small towns and cities that make up America, like West Linn.
Suhr and city officials rediscovered Willamette Park. Last year, the ceremony featured Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, West Linn Police Chaplain Chuck Boman, local dignitaries, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and hundreds of community members.
This year, the city of West Linn will host its annual Honoring Those Who Serve remembrance on Tuesday again at Willamette Park. A remembrance water ceremony with wreaths and flowers will be held at 6 p.m. followed by a meet-and-greet with members of the West Linn Police Department, Clackamas County Sheriffs Office, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and more at 6:30 p.m. Families are invited to see fire engines and police vehicles and meet the people who serve the city of West Linn.
Suhr said although 9/11 was a game changer, the community event is meant to inspire a movement around local service.
What we really want to do is build a community event, he said. We are going to continue to work to make the ceremony about honoring those who died firemen, policemen and soldiers but equally important are the people that sacrifice for us everyday, the modern day heroes.
Yellow ribbon campaign
An informal grassroots campaign also spearheaded by Suhr is taking shape on the A Street bridge. Last year, organizers tied more than 3,000 yellow ribbons, T-shirts and pieces of yarn on the bridge in remembrance of those killed in the 9/11 attacks. Next to the ribbons was a sign that read West Linn Remembers.
Organizers are hosting the same event this year. Thousands of yellow ribbons will be supplied and stored in a bucket on the bridge until 9/11. Suhr said he encourages community members to hang a ribbon and reflect.
The bridge will be decorated for over a week, Suhr said. Its not about a public showing of engagement but about people privately stopping by and connecting.
Its just so touching to see families tying ribbons on the bridge and to hear people honking and yelling as they drive by. Hopefully it inspires some conversations.
For more information about the city of West Linns event, visit http://westlinnoregon.gov. For more information about the yellow ribbon campaign, visit http://westlinnremembers.com.