Members of law enforcement, firefighters and the public quietly gathered for a 9/11 remembrance Tuesday evening at the Law Enforcement and Firefighters Memorial of Allen County, located on North Wells Street.
Stacey Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Fort Wayne Fire Department, said she had been looking around in the community to see what events were happening on 9/11. When she found nothing, she contacted firefighter Mark Litwinko, who helped with a stairclimbing event at Parkview Field last year.
Together, they came up with this idea and ran it past Jerry Vandeveer and the board of the memorial. Vandeveer said they had nothing else scheduled for the night, so they planned the event for Tuesday evening.
It was a quiet remembrance, with participants placing American flags around the memorial, 403, one for each fallen soul. At 7 p.m. the Fort Wayne Police and Firefighters Pipe and Drum Brigade marched to the Memorial, played “Amazing Grace,” and then marched out.
Donna Holland, a professor of sociology at IPFW and her husband, Greg Roberts, baseball coach at the University of Saint Francis, attended with their two children, gently guiding them in the placement of flags.
Aboite Fire Chief Gale Stelzer was there with two of his firefighters to show their support.
Mayor Tom Henry came to the event, placed a flag and bowed his head in a moment of silence.
“It’s a humble way of expressing our concern for what happened on 9/11. It’s not a big flamboyant celebration, but just a humble way of saying we care,” Henry said.
Fort Wayne Fire Department Chief Amy Biggs said it has been a labor of love, and their pledge to never forget what happened in 2001.
“This opportunity to have a silent reverent ceremony without any speakers per se, allows the community to do it on their own terms,” Biggs said.
The crowd ebbed and swelled over the three-hour period. Many who visited were police officers and firefighters, but many were people who paused their day to remember those unforgettable events 11 years ago in New York City.