By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
It began with an almost festive mood, with children playing and waving flags, as several hundred spectators found their seats.
But in a cool and thickening fog, a more somber feel soon took over as residents from Del Norte and Curry counties gathered to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"The horror was played over and over on television and on every American's face," said emcee Bill Stamps as he recalled the events of last year. "Nineteen hijackers died in vain that day, but those they killed did not."
Only the occasional sound of a rescue dog barking could be heard during the posting of colors, when multi-agency officers marched both the American and California flags onto the field.
The American battle flag, that was flown over Afghanistan and Iraq by Del Norte County's Senior Airman Lacey Thomas Norbert, was raised above the heads of several speakers. The certificate of authenticity, read by Stamps, said "Let it be known that this American flag bears witness to the destruction of America's enemies."
After an invocation by Pastor William Alexander, mayors Herb Kolodner of Crescent City and Bob Hagbom of Brookings spoke to the crowd, along with Del Norte County Supervisor Chuck Blackburn and Curry County Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf.
Schaaf made a point of correlating the efforts of rescue volunteers in New York a year ago to the firefighters who battled the Biscuit fire in our own backyard. "They came as strangers to help protect what we call home, and they left as friends," Schaaf said.
At least 100 uniformed officers from several agencies stood next to emergency vehicles, many of whom were firefighters.
Chelsea Sherrick, the daughter of a one firefighter, read one of the poems she often slipped into her father's bag before he would respond to an emergency call. The father and daughter embraced afterward.
Local Native American Frank Hostler offered a memorial prayer after speaking personally of his thoughts of being an American.
"There is an overwhelming amount of people now joining the armed forces. It makes you proud to look at them," Hostler said was one result of last Sept. 11, 2001. "It's comforting to know they protect us, allowing these children that can play peacefully here, like they are now."
Although an aerial salute planned for the event was cancelled due to the low cloud cover and fog, the emergency lights on the vehicles flashed like beacons in the encroaching darkness to the sound of the tolling of the bell.