A small group of veterans and community leaders observed Patriot Day at the American Legion Colin Hyde Post 172 on Bucklin Hill Road on Bainbridge Island to remember those who died during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
BI City Councilmember Clarence Moriwaki said he remembers how elected officials and people on the street said, “This is our generation’s Pearl Harbor” because it was an attack on America.
“I sure hope not,” Moriwaki said, “because what happened 82 years ago was fear, racism and prejudice, and the first force exclusion started right around Bainbridge Island.” His fears right after 9-11 were for his Muslim and Arab-American friends, and he hoped there wouldn’t be a Pearl Harbor-type reaction. Moriwaki feared the Seattle mosque would be the subject of graffiti, arson or gun violence. “I was holding my breath.” But the opposite happened.
The Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Interfaith Council of King County, and many lay people surrounded the mosque in peace, arm-in-arm 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for weeks, protecting the building. Moriwaki said: “Honestly, of all the shocking stuff that I saw that day, that was the first time I cried. Because I couldn’t believe the courage of those people doing this for other Americans. And that, to me, was where patriotism really stood out, because they weren’t gonna let that happen. They were gonna let fear subside of them.”
Moriwaki said the lesson we learned on BI decades ago, during the exclusion when friends and neighbors protected properties and friendships, “that spirit was over there in Seattle, and many Bainbridge Islanders were going there, multiple times a week.”
BI police chief Joe Clark remembered seeing the unprecedented events of our lifetime live on TV. “Our first responders were on scene; the firefighters, the EMTs, the police officers, they raced to each of the scenes. They were doing the work that they were trained to do, and they sacrificed their personal safety to help others.”
Clark recognized the 345 firefighters and 72 police officers who died that day and the passengers of United Flight 93 who overpowered the highjackers and crashed the plane into a field in Pennsylvania, “They sacrificed their lives to stop another deadly attack,” Clark said.
He added: “This was a time when our nation came together in service and our nation came together as a community. Despite whatever differences we see in our national discourse, today, we remember that we all came together as a community. When we come together as a community, we can overcome any challenges.”
Fire chief Jared Moravec said 9/11 has taught us the importance of preparedness, coordination and a steadfast commitment to our mission: protecting lives and property through prevention, education and emergency response.
“The courage displayed 22 years ago by New York’s bravest is the same courage that any of the men and women who are sworn to protect the citizens of Bainbridge Island may be asked to display at any time, on any day,” Moravec said, “Each and every one of them is ready to do so when the alarm sounds. 9/11 taught us that we all have to be vigilant of the dangers that lurk in today’s world.”
Post Cmdr. Gary Sakuma said the American Legion event commemorates the first responders and Armed Forces personnel who died or were wounded on Sept. 11, 2011. “It is their Day of Service and Remembrance, reminding us of the unprovoked attack on American soil. It also recognizes all the U.S. and world citizens who were in the World Trade Center.” Citizens from 60 other countries died that day. Sakuma, a Vietnam veteran who was an airline pilot at that time, said there have been 96 incidents involving United States citizens worldwide in terrorist attacks since 1979.
“The consequences of 9/11 resulted in a declaration of war on terrorism which led us to Iraq, Afghanistan and 30 years of war. The price of freedom is very high—paid by the lives of the few,” Sakuma said.
He worries that first responders are sometimes taken for granted in protecting our freedoms, and it’s important to honor all those who died that Tuesday. Sakuma mentioned POW/MIA Day, which takes place Sept. 15 and honors sacrifices made by them. He said they deserve the same recognition. There’s a military saying, “We have each other’s back,” Sakuma said. “Unfortunately, there aren’t many organizations in the United States that recognize the significance of POW/MIA Day.”