CHESAPEAKE CITY — It may be nearly 18 years since the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon shook and United 93 crashed into a field, but county residents are working to ensure the memories of the nearly 3,000 killed in the 9/11 attacks are not forgotten.
A solemn ceremony in Chesapeake City will once again mark the anniversary of the terror attacks and kick off a month of community service, while the Upper Chesapeake Community Band will continue its tradition of playing patriotic selections in Elk Neck.
The concert will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Hart’s Amphitheater, located at 3203 Turkey Point Road near North East. Then at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11, a 9/11 Remembrance Tribute will be hosted by the Chesapeake City Ecumenical Association at Chesapeake City Memorial VFW Post 7687, located at 304 Basil Ave.
Both events are free and open to the public.
The Hart’s Amphitheater concert traces its roots all the way to 2001, when a September concert originally intended to simply highlight the talents of the local Upper Chesapeake Community Band. After the events of 9/11, however, the concert took on a new meaning, drawing hundreds who listened to patriotic selections in a show of American solidarity following the attacks at the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a now-hallowed field in Shanksville, Pa. Since then, the concert has continued to be held the Saturday closest to Sept. 11.
As always, the Upper Chesapeake Community Band will reprise its traditional patriotic selections. Meanwhile, representatives of the county’s emergency services will be honored during the ceremony.
Leading the band this year is special guest U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Patrick Sweeten, director of the Naval Academy Band.
For the first time, Chesapeake City’s 9/11 ceremony will move to the town’s VFW post.
“The VFW post saw that we did the service indoors last year at Trinity United Methodist Church because of looming weather and they told us they would like to host it this year,” explained Frank Vari, a town councilman who has organized the event for the past four years.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard, local fire companies and state police are all scheduled to participate in the ceremony that features memorial speeches, honorary music and more for the nearly 3,000 who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.
The ceremony also kicks off Chesapeake City’s “Day To Serve” campaign, a month-long community service initiative launched by Gov. Larry Hogan to run Sept. 11 through Oct. 11, and attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable items with them. Food, clothing and new or gently used toys will be collected during that period for the CCEA, a nonprofit that unites the area churches in the common cause of helping those in need. Group members distribute food, clothing and emergency funds to those in the Chesapeake City area from their center in the St. Basil Hall on Basil Avenue in Chesapeake City.
“All of the toys collected will be donated to those in need around Christmastime,” Vari noted.
Drop-off points include town hall during normal business hours and CCEA headquarters on Basil Avenue between 9 a.m. and noon Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Vari is also organizing a town cleanup day on Sept. 28 to coincide with the Day to Serve campaign. Volunteers are asked to meet at town hall at 8:30 a.m.
“I think to serve in any capacity is an honor and a pleasure,” he said. “I try to express that when I visit our elementary school students to instill that value. Without people stepping up to serve in some capacity, where would we be?”
Vari said that he’s excited that members of the Bohemia Manor High School National Honor Society chapter will participate in the cleanup day, and he hopes to attract more youth to the morning of service in town.
“My parents always instilled in us to be active in our community and to try to leave this world a little better than you found it,” he said. “It’s not just about doing the time to get your diploma, but having pride in your community and helping improve it.”