The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4748 in Tuolumne is hosting a ceremony Wednesday morning on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, to remember the 2,977 people who were killed.
The inaugural event is scheduled to begin at about 9:11 a.m. at the work site of a 9/11 memorial that’s under construction on the east lawn of the Tuolumne Veterans Memorial Hall, at 18375 Fir Avenue in Tuolumne.
Iraq War veteran Aaron Rasumussen, lead organizer of the event and former commander of the post, said they plan to host the event each year at the memorial, which is about halfway done.
Rasmussen said he hopes it will be an opportunity for people to reflect on the lives lost in the attacks, as well as remember the sense of patriotism and unity that followed.
“After 9/11, everyone seemed a little more united and patriotism had a little resurgence,” he said. “I’m hoping that in the years to come, people will leave the ceremony more patriotic and united like we were after that day.”
The post had originally aimed to complete the memorial by Sept. 11 this year but, due to a limited budget, they have to rely on volunteer contractors who are in the midst of their busiest time of the year.
Rasmussen said they hope to have the memorial completed to host a dedication ceremony on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
Most of the funding for the project came from the work of Candace Olsen, who raised more than $72,000 earlier this year for her senior project at Summerville High School.
Another $12,000 was provided through a grant from the Sonora Area Foundation, while the post raised about $6,000 from selling commemorative bricks that will be placed on the memorial.
“It’s fully driven by the community,” Rasmussen said. “People here, we love our town, and it shows.”
Rasmussen said he will begin the ceremony with an opening prayer, followed by a ringing of the bell for the four crash sites and singing of a patriotic song.
Coffee and pastries will be served immediately after the event.
The idea for the memorial, which will also commemorate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that came after 9/11, was originally conceived several years ago by Rasmussen and Vietnam veteran Frank Smart.
When 9/11 occurred, Rasmussen said he was one week into advanced individual training for the U.S. Army and recovering in a hospital at Fort Jackson in South Carolina from pneumonia he contracted during boot camp.
“I never really thought it would have as much of an impact on my life as it did, but 18 years later here I am,” he said.
Rasmussen went on to serve in the Army for the next 13 years, including 11 months in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.