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9/11 stands alone in history, memory


At the Blue Star Memorial Marker dedication on 9/11, Oregon Army National Guard's Staff Sgt. Chris Nicholas places a wreath honoring military service and the 9/11 victims.
Mid-county Memo photos/Tim Curran
Kyle Wochnick, from left, Staff Captain of the Portland Fire & Rescue's Training and Safety Division facility on Northeast 122nd Avenue - home to Portland's newest Blue Star Memorial Marker - with Villa Garden Club member Cindy Hurst and her husband. Hurst and Wochnick worked together for more than six months planning and meeting to make the marker a reality.
Surrounded by GABA's first responders, those zany Keystone Kops, Fred Sanchez, Gateway Area Business Association vice-president and board member since 2002, announces GABA's Citizen of the Year, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
After the evening ecumenical service of remembrance held last month at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Parkrose, celebrants from five Mid-county churches joined in singing all five verses of “Amazing Grace ” lined up along both sides of Prescott Street outside the church.
The nation and the world marked the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks last month. Here in Mid-county, people got a first look at a new Blue Star Memorial Marker; first responders were recognized for their public service; an ecumenical service of remembrance was held at a Parkrose church; and a new event created at a local church.
It was the tenth time the country stopped to remember a day that redefined so many things in American life.

Once again, heartbreaking rituals were carried out in New York, Washington D.C. and rural Pennsylvania; and once again, there were outpourings of grief as names of the dead were read at Ground Zero.

In east Portland, the Portland District Garden Clubs capped a six-month effort with a Blue Star Memorial Marker dedication; the Gateway Area Business Association held its annual first responders tribute commemorating American's resolve; St. Matthew's Episcopal Church held an ecumenical service of remembrance and hope; and Crossroads Church created Septemberfest: a new event commemorating 9/11 and America's strengths.

The new Blue Star Memorial Marker at the Portland Fire & Rescue Training and Safety Division facility on Northeast 122nd Avenue makes it six in Portland and 70 in Oregon. Kyle Wochnick, staff captain at the facility said, “We really wanted this here. It took a lot of meetings, time and effort, but it was well worth it.”

Honoring service members, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the Blue Star Memorial Highway Program in 1945. In 1994, the program expanded to include Memorial Markers and byways. It took more than six months of meetings, fund-raising and planning but Portland Garden Clubs District Director Jennifer Nash said, “It's a tangible symbol of honor and remembrance to those who served and those who we lost.” A plaque at the base of the marker honors public servants and first responders who died on 9/11. The six garden clubs in the Portland district - Eastmoreland I and II, Eastmoreland Heights, Wilshire, Multnomah, Villa and Flower Lane, were, to some degree, all involved with the fundraising, landscaping, personal donations and the dedication event's production.

The Gateway Area Business Association held its annual tribute to first responders on Sept. 10. After a presentation of colors by the American Legion Post No. 1, two dozen the police, firefighters and Red Cross disaster workers were feted, fed and presented with plaques; GABA used the occasion to announce the recipient of its Citizen of the Year award, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Amanda Fritz has been an advocate for east Portland ever since her first day in office,” said GABA President Lee Powell. A 6.5-mile bike ride around Gateway followed the event.

Parishioners from Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, Parkrose United Methodist Church, St. Aidan's and Eastminster Episcopal Churches met for an evening ecumenical service of remembrance and hope at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Parkrose on 9/11. Marla McGarry-Lawrence, deacon at St. Matthew's, said “I wanted to host this service of remembrance and hope because it provides an opportunity for St. Matthew's to join with other churches to honor the tragedies in a way that expressed our deep sorrow and our yearning to be peacemakers and reconcilers.”

After the inside ceremony and while singing, the congregation lit candles, walked outside in a procession and lined both sides of Prescott Street, then sang “Amazing Grace.” Rev. Bill Hays, pastor at Parkrose United Methodist Church, said, “It is so encouraging to see so many people here tonight from so many different congregations worshipping together.” St. Matthew's parisioner Joan Stevens agreed, “I like that a violent act has been turned into a peace centered one.”

The inaugural Septemberfest had a special memoriam, live music, arts and crafts, international foods, community information booths, games and activities for kids. Larry Whittlesey, Crossroads Church leadership team minister said, “We were looking for a way to gather the community together and mark the tragedy that affected us all.” Whittlesey, also principal of Crossroads Christian School added, “We want to commemorate and honor the tragedy, but also demonstrate our resolve as a country.” Despite not all vendors appearing as planned, it was a successful inaugural event Whittlesey said. “Many of our neighbors and friends came today helping us build our community.”

For more photos of the east Portland 9/11 activities in this story, visit
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