Suffolk to remember 9/11 victims Sunday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2005

Donna Perry doesn’t want anyone to forget the sheer horror of seeing airplanes ram into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

Or to bury the vision of desperate people, jumping from buildings, or making one final phone calls to loved ones, as New York City’s public safety workers rushed into burning rubble.

So on Sunday – four years after terrorists destroyed lives and forever changed the way Americans live – the Citizen’s Academy Alumni of Suffolk is marking the event with a 9/11 candlelight memorial ceremony. The public is invited to the event, which is being held in the waterfront park at Constant’s Wharf at 7 p.m.

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Guest speakers will include state Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk; Mayor Bobby Ralph; and Donna Perry, founder and president of CAAS.

Bagpiper John Dellindeck and local singer Jason Swain will perform.

Local artist Chris Alexander, renowned for her mermaids, will display her rescue dog: a German shepherd draped in the American flag, with a single tear rolling down his face, Perry said. The dog will be taken to New York for the unveiling of the 9/11 memorial in 2009.

Besides remembering the victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, people will also be asked to remember the endless contributions made by the local police, fire and rescue community.

&uot;A lot of people forget about Sept. 11,&uot; said Perry. &uot; Public safety work is often a thankless job.

Officers risk their lives every day serving and protecting us, the citizens of Suffolk.

&uot;We are grateful for the ones who protect and serve, and I encourage everyone to take a moment to stop and thank them for their hard work and dedication at protecting us.

&uot;September 11 is a day we Americans will forever associate with the bravery and sacrifices of rescue workers.

It is appropriate that we take a day to honor our own local heroes.&uot;

From 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, CAAS is sponsoring its annual appreciation luau for public safety officers, Perry said.

Invitations have been extended to personnel and family members of the Suffolk police and fire departments, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, the sheriff’s department, the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad and Western Tidewater Regional Jail staffers.

People who attend may be eligible to win all sorts of donated prizes: massages, green fees, gift certificates, local cruise tickets, bowling packages, museum passes, and lots more, Perry said.

One winner will go home with $1,000 in cash donated by City Councilwoman Linda T. Johnson and her husband, Jesse, an attorney in Suffolk.

Maralyn &uot;Mad Dog&uot; Hershey, of Survivor fame, will be special guest.

Chrissy Henley, wife of slain Suffolk police officer Drew Henley, will be on hand to accept her husband’s award as CAAS’ 2005 &uot;Public Safety Officer Of The Year&uot;.

She will be presented with a bronze statue of an officer holding a child.

&uot;This event is just a small way to show our local heroes that we do appreciate them,&uot; Perry said. &uot;Our safety and security does not just happen by chance.

&uot;It is the result of the heroic sacrifices of law enforcement, fire and emergency personnel, and the work of untold numbers of volunteers and others in Suffolk that keep us safe and prevent crime and violence.&uot;