Flint Hills Volunteer Center wanted to bring the community together at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a day of remembrance, executive director Lori Bishop said.
The 9/11 Freedom Rally at Bishop Stadium in CiCo Park featured speeches from Republicans Governor Jeff Colyer, Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, as well as representatives from Fort Riley, the National Guard and emergency response professionals. Each reflected on what happened 17 years ago and how it has changed everyone’s lives with a primary focus on reflection and remembrance.
Schmidt said Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 is something that people some people can’t remember and, since it is a defining moment in history for the United States, those who do remember must tell their children about that day.
As the American and Kansas flags flew beside the stage, each speaker reflected on why being in the heart of the U.S. benefits Kansans.
“Kansas is the heart of America,” Colyer said. “We saw that 17 years ago. Our heart is with first responders every day. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things in times of need.”
Mann, after graduating from Kansas State with a degree in agricultural economics, was in Washington, D.C. on 9/11 and said the world has changed so much in the aftermath of what seemed like an ordinary Tuesday.
“The towers fell, but America is more than buildings,” Mann said. “It is an idea that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. Those have not changed. In the long haul, we as Americans are stronger.”
Col.Curtis Taylor from Fort Riley reflected on the heroic acts of first responders and civilians alike following the attacks. Their heroic acts, Taylor said, are what saved lives.
“Only through retelling can we do justice to those that fought and struggled to preserve America,” Schmidt agreed, in his speech.
Sept. 11 is considered a defining moment of a generation, similar to how the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy defined older generations, Brad Schoen, director of the Riley County Police Department, said.
“This remembrance of defining moments is allotted to each generation as time passes,” Schoen said.
In remembrance, the country works towards providing safety for future generations, Schoen said, because 9/11 is when the reality of terrorism on American soil crept into the forefront of everyones’ minds.
“Tell the children what you remember,” Schmidt said. “It is that personal retelling that will tell them what that response meant to America.”