On a lovely fall morning 18 years ago this week, militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Quaida hijacked four planes and used them as weapons to slaughter thousands of civilians.

Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Another slammed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

The fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, about 80 miles from Pittsburgh.

This is what is known as 9/11—a day that became emblazoned in the memories of every American who witnessed these events across the nation by TV, radio and the internet.

For Culpeper, these tragic events were particularly impactful. A married couple from Culpeper, Ken and Jennifer Lewis, were flight attendants on American Flight 77 that fateful day and perished when it struck the Pentagon.

Culpeper remembers

For the past 11 years, Culpeper has observed September 11 by recognizing the first responders who fought against all odds to save survivors in the buildings that were hit, many of whom were killed themselves as the buildings collapsed.

This year, once again, on Wednesday the Culpeper Minutemen Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, in partnership with Bugles Across America, will gather at the Culpeper Volunteer Fire Department on West Davis Street.

Honor Guards from the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Department and Town Police will salute with the CMC at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane struck the north tower in New York City. Bugler Gerry Schuck with Bugles Across America will play Taps. This first observance specifically honors the fire fighters who lost their lives that day.

The groups will shift slightly up the street, next, to stand in front of the Sheriff’s office at 9:03 a.m., the time that the second plane hit the south tower. Taps will be repeated, with salutes, in honor of the law enforcement officers who were killed that day.

At 9:37 a.m., when Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, the same salutes will be given and Taps will be played, but this time at Culpeper War Memorial Park at 527 Wine St. All those in the military, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, will be recognized with this observance.

Everyone will then proceed back to the corner of Davis and Main Streets, where the ceremony will be repeated at 10:03, when the last plane crashed into the field in Pennsylvania. This will also honor all the citizens who died trying to save others throughout the attacks.

After a moment of silence, Taps will be sounded for a fifth time to honor those killed on Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya.

A verse from “America the Beautiful” will then be played remembering all the innocent citizens who died on 9/11 followed by “Amazing Grace” in memory of the Lewises, who were so close they were called “Kennifer.”

“We lost so many American lives,” said Charles Jameson, vice president of the Culpeper Minutemen Chapter, explaining why his group has organized the event for so many years. “It’s so important to remember those lives, and to honor those who lost their lives trying to help others.”

For more information, contact gschuck@hughes.net.

Other 9/11 observances will take place in various ways throughout Culpeper:

National Day of Service and Remembrance

Culpeper National Cemetery is partnering with Carry the Load to host its first-ever Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Volunteers are asked to come out and help clean the hallowed grounds where the nation’s finest rest. 9/11 is a day that will live in the heart and minds of Americans, Culpeper National Cemetery Director Matthew Priest said in a statement.

“It is a day where we can truly come together as a nation for one common goal,” he said. “Let us come together and honor the service and sacrifices of our veterans and ensure that their legacy never dies.”

A traveling contingent with Dallas, Texas-based Carry the Load visited Culpeper National Cemetery for Memorial Day, bringing a message of “Never forget.” The group works to bring all Americans together to participate in honoring the nation’s veterans every day. Carry the Load is working with National Cemeteries across the country on the Patriot Day projects.

Volunteers are required to wear closed-toe shoes, and work gloves are encouraged. Work supplies will be provided. Those interested in participating in the cleanup day can register on Facebook at 9/11 Volunteer day: Culpeper National Cemetery. For information, contact katie.schexnayder@carrytheload.org.

9/11 first responder prayer service

His Village Church is hosting a one-hour prayer service and tribute to first responders at noon on Sept. 11 in the courtyard of the Culpeper County Courthouse on West Davis Street.

The church is also hosting a One Village Prayer & Worship Service 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Culpeper Tractor Supply, 588 Culpeper Town Square. All are welcome to this free community event and should bring their own chairs. For information, see hisvillagechurch.org.

White Horse Auto Wash free services on Sept. 11

The newest car wash in town, which opened for business earlier this summer, will be offering free exterior car washes to those serving in all branches of the military, National Guard, personnel who work in emergency medical services, fire fighters, police officers, sheriff’s officers, state troopers, first responders and their families.

The free car washes will be available at all White Horse Auto Wash locations—Warrenton, Woodbridge, Charlottesville and Culpeper.

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