by Jim Boyle
The same crisp, blue skies that greeted New York City and Elk River on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, returned to Elk River for the community’s 10th Anniversary Ceremony and Public Safety Open House.
It was a day of remembrance and a reminder to never forget or become complacent in the fight to remain safe.
Elk River Mayor John Dietz said terrorist attacks hit Washington, D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania, but they could have struck anywhere.
“We should not have the attitude that it could never happen here,” he stated to a crowd of citizens, elected officials and public safety personnel standing at attention. “We can never let our guard down.”
Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe echoed the mayor’s sentiment, saying the worst thing to do would be to become complacent.
“On this, the 10th anniversary, let us try to recapture the unity and spirit that covered this nation and helped lift it from the shock and ashes of that terrible day,” he said. “Remain vigilant, steadfast, and never forget.”
Dietz, Rolfe and Elk River Fire Chief John Cunningham all paid homage to the emergency personnel who lost their lives in the atrocities committed against the United States.
Cunningham reflected on his time spent working at Ground Zero with what were then complete strangers, but when they broke at the end of the day they formed a lasting bond that has brought them together numerous times over the past decade. (See related story.)
Rolfe talked of the strides the country and local units of government have made since the attacks to make Americans safer. (See related story.)
Dietz expressed thankfulness for the added attention placed on first responders. He admitted 9/11 has given him a deeper appreciation for them.
“I’m very proud of all our emergency personnel, from Joel Brott and the sheriff’s department to Brad Rolfe and the police department and John Cunningham and the fire department,” he said. “We should all pray for their safety. It shouldn’t take a 9/11 for us to recognize what our first responders do for us.”
The Sept. 10 9/11 program led into the annual Public Safety Open House, which was well-attended, followed by a dance in the evening at which Shane Martin and Martin Zellers entertained.