Story by Kathlyn Meyer
The Colorado Remembers 9/11 memorial service was held early this Tuesday afternoon at Civic Center Park. The event was multi-faceted, as it served to not only honor the lives of those lost in the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001, but also to acknowledge the recent Aurora shooting tragedy, and the lives lost during the Colorado wildfires throughout the summer.
A crowd of roughly 2,000 gathered in the park as Gov. John Hickenlooper took the stage. Hickenlooper was among many Colorado officials that came to commemorate America’s loss.
“It’s important that we have the opportunity to come together as a community, and a state, to honor the many thousands of lives that we lost 11 years ago today,” he said. “On this day of remembrance, I also want to honor the memories of our community members who were victims of the Aurora tragedy and the wildfires this summer.”
Hickenlooper balanced the tone of the ceremony by drawing equal attention to the incredible efforts of first responders, firemen and police officers. “
This ceremony is more than just a remembrance of the past and a tribute to the fallen — it is a tribute to the living, and all we have learned about our safety, our nation, and our collective humanity,” Hickenlooper said.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan were also present at the ceremony. Hancock announced that as of last year, he had officially accepted an piece from the rubble of the World Trade Center. That artifact was present at the memorial service.
In addition to the World Trade Center artifact, fire department truck New York Rescue 4, was also at Civic Center Park.
“Today we also have the privilege of hosting yet another piece of history from that fateful day,” Hancock said. “Of the five rescue rigs that responded to the World Trade Center, this truck, Rescue 4 was the only fire truck that responded to the 9/11 attacks to have survived.”
There was a sense of encouragement and a wave of emotion as the memorial continued.
“Senseless acts of violence do not define us as a community,” Hogan said.
Others speaking during the memorial were Denver Fire Chief Mike Garcia and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates. Oates’ sorrow was evident as he spoke of the personal loss he experienced during the 9/11 attacks. Oates’ friend, Anthony Infonte — a member of the Port Authority Police Department—was among the 403 first responders.
Ariana Lucero, a young woman who works near Civic Center Park, spent her lunch break at the ceremony.
“Remember the ones that sacrificed, and [that] one morning, [they] woke up and didn’t realize it was going to be their last morning with their kids, their wives, their parents, whoever,” Lucero said. “I think it does well to remind people that there is a certain day in our country that tragedy hit us.”
During the event, members from the group We Are Change Colorado disseminated information about their beliefs in 9/11 conspiracy theories.
According to spectator Pat Barrington, the group does this at the memorial service every year.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to expose people to this terrible tragedy, so they can make their own decision on what happened,” Barrington said. “The U.S. is about freedom to make your own decisions and take responsibility for them.”
Hazel Miller, a jazz/blues artist, took the stage to kick-start the concert that began directly after the memorial service, which also featured the Beach Boys, the Colorado Symphony and the Colorado Children’s Chorale.
“More than anything, we are honoring the survivors,” Miller said.