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Freedom Walk, Speakers Honor the Fallen of 9/11

Sept. 11, 2008 — At noon Tuesday, the clanging of the "Four Fives" mournfully rang out in the Myron G. Danielson American Legion Hall. The Four Fives was the symbolic last ringing of a fire bell for deceased firemen, and St. Croix fireman Antonio Stevens rang the bell to honor firemen who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
The bell-ringing was at a commemoration ceremony attended by more than 75 people remembering all who died that horrific day.
V.I. resident Ophelia Walters lost her daughter Claudia Walters-Sutton, who was at work in the World Trade Center that day.
"I really miss her," Walters said. "I miss her every day, but I'm planning to meet her in the first resurrection. My source of peace and strength is in the Almighty."
The St. Croix ceremony began with a freedom walk starting at Basin Triangle in Christiansted proceeding through town in the heat and blazing sun, to the legion hall. Some of the older walkers were picked up along the way and driven to the hall.
Sgt. Maj. Eugenie Santos of the V.I. National Guard led the walk along with Vielka White carrying a banner that read "Freedom Walk — America Supports You — V.I. National Guard." White's mother, Maudlyn White of the National Guard, died in the attack on the Pentagon where she was working.
"I have taken part in every ceremony marking the event ever since 2001," said White, a soft-spoken teenager.
Following them were members of VING, American Legion members Post 85, the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Junior ROTC from Central High School, fire trucks, the Hazmat response team and the Coast Guard patrol boat.
"America was a target, and I watched helplessly with horror as she was bombarded," said V.I. National Guard Adjutant General Renaldo Rivera. His voice cracked, and he paused momentarily to gain his composure. "I took this attack personally." He went on to say the military is stronger than ever now, fighting for freedom.
"My only wish today is that all present stand silent with prayer and pay homage to all who lost their lives," Rivera said.
The Fireman's Prayer was read by Stevens. American Legion member and local author Richard Schrader read his poem "Towers of Hope and Peace Will Rise."
Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. was on hand to mark the ceremony.
He spoke of the impact Sept. 11 has made on the lives of all U.S. citizens in such areas as air travel and the increase in the armed forces to fight in Iraq.
"I honor all V.I. National Guard members who put their life on the line in Operation Enduring Freedom," deJongh said. "I honor all those who have done things I have never done and never will do."
The ceremony ended with deJongh and Roxanne Miller, American Legion service officer, placing a red, white and blue flowered wreath on the trunk of a palm tree on the front lawn of the Legion hall.

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