Martha’s Vineyard will remember 9/11 victims at Sunday ceremony

The stripes on a commemorative flag displayed at the Tisbury Police Department include the names of all emergency services personnel who died as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Martha's Vineyard Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts presented and donated similar flags to all of the Island town's fire and police departments, State Police, and Sheriff's department on September 11 last year. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

A special ceremony to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will take place Sunday at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, starting at 8:40 am.

All fire, police, and emergency medical personnel and military veterans, as well as the general public, are invited to attend the event, organized by the Tisbury Fire Department, American Legion Post #257, and Martha’s Vineyard Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts.

“We would like all Island first responders who are able to join us to wear their dress uniforms, if possible,” Tisbury fire lieutenant Dan Feeney said in a planning meeting last Sunday.

Everyone who attends should assemble promptly at 8:30 am at the bricked corner of the Post Office parking lot. Mr. Feeney said Vineyard Haven postmaster Joe Massua has given permission for use of the area. Limited seating will be available.

Part of the parking lot will be blocked off so that Tisbury fire captain Ken Maciel can park the town’s ladder truck at the corner to display a large American flag overhead.

The ceremony will begin at 8:40 am with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by the Cub Scouts. At 8:46 am and 9:03 am, the fire truck will sound its bell to mark the times hijackers intentionally crashed planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

In between the bells, Eagle Scout candidate Jessie Thomas, a senior at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, will provide a narration about the September 11 attacks. Tisbury ambulance director Jeff Pratt will read the “Fireman’s Prayer.” The ceremony also will include music played by James Joyce on the bagpipes and Legionnaire Edson Rogers on the trumpet.

At the planning meeting, Mr. Feeney summed up the organizers’ motivation: “We can’t afford to forget what happened that day.”

The tragic events of 9/11 touched families nationwide, including some on Martha’s Vineyard. Ken Waldie of Methuen, the brother of Grace Waldie McGroarty of Oak Bluffs, was among passengers killed on American Flight 11 out of Boston, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. Dr. Alan and Lynn Retik of Boston and West Tisbury lost a son, David Retik of Needham, who was aboard the same flight.

Although an invitation to Sunday’s ceremony went out to all Island first responders, Tisbury Fire Chief Schilling said there may be scheduling conflicts for many of them on Sunday because of other events such as the West Tisbury fire department’s annual picnic and a triathlon in Oak Bluffs.

“I don’t know what the turnout will be, but the interest is very strong in Tisbury, obviously, and we’re doing our best to pull something together,” he said in a phone conversation yesterday.

For more information, contact American Legion Post Commander Ed Colligan at 508-693-0912 or Mr. Feeney at 508-400-4286.