Steamboat reflects on 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
September 11, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The jovial yells of children on a soccer field meshed with the sounds of bagpipes and drums Sunday at the Yampa River Botanic Park as more than 50 people bowed their heads and reflected on the 10 years that have passed since America's most devastating terrorist attack.
As the recorded music became progressively more intense, Steamboat Springs firefighter Marnie Smith stood silently thinking about the people who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001, and how the attacks had changed her own life. She was alone with her thoughts until 4-year-old Adelyn Armstrong pierced the silence to ask for a hug.
"It was calming," Smith said about the child's embrace during the moment of reflection. "It was nice to hold someone so pure and innocent. Someone who didn't witness the terrible things that happened that day. It made everything easier."
Smith said as painful as the memory of the attacks is, she still values her own recollection of that day. She said the sacrifice of the first responders who died in New York City eventually led her to become an EMT in Steamboat 4 1/2 years ago. And like every anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, she said the 10th was a very emotional one.
"It brought forth an overwhelming feeling of pride and appreciation for what we do," the firefighter said.
The small afternoon gathering in the children's garden was one of three anniversary events in Steamboat that included a morning flag-lowering ceremony at the Routt County Courthouse and an event later in the afternoon at the Botanic Park that honored first responders and members of the armed services. The afternoon reflection began in silence and then with a declaration that the tragedies that occurred more than 1,000 miles from the Yampa Valley had dramatically changed the lives of many.
Organizer Harriet Freiberger said that on Sunday, Steamboat Springs wasn't as far away from ground zero as many may think.
"We're a long way from New York but not really," Freiberger said.
Like Smith, Freiberger said it was important that the anniversary gatherings and remembrances of the lost continue every year.
"We need a day like this to remind us that we can all get along," she said. "We're the ones that have to carry on and continue to tell this story."
After 15 minutes of silent reflection, audience members began to share stories about how they were affected in the decade since the attacks. Cathie Voorhees, of Yampa, told those gathered that she vividly remembers watching the twin towers as they first rose to the sky in the 1970s and was shocked to see them fall 10 years ago.
"They were overpoweringly huge, and when they went down, it shocked us all," she said. "The attacks touched us in so many ways and are still fresh today."
As she started to cry, Voorhees said that Sunday was a time for prayer for those who lost their lives and loved ones in the attacks
Steamboat's Sept. 11 anniversary remembrance events began hours earlier on Lincoln Avenue as fire engines approached the Routt County Courthouse.
A small crowd gathered on the lawn on the cold, clear morning, and their conversations were silenced as the engines approached.
"It was emotional for me," firefighter Trevor Guire said after he rode down Lincoln. "People got out of their cars to salute us."
He said he often tries to imagine what it would have been like as first responder in New York City 10 years ago.
"I would like to think I would have been one of the guys climbing up the stairs of the World Trade Center," he said.
And as he left the flag-lowering ceremony, Jason St. John had a hard time describing what he thought had changed since Sept. 11, 2001.
"It's all the intangible things," he said holding his 1-year-old daughter, Marisa. "It feels like the whole world has changed."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com