SANDY — Several hundred people gathered Sunday near a bronze monument depicting three firefighters raising the American flag at ground zero shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"We need to remember where we were and especially how we felt when our country was attacked unprovoked," Army Reserve Gen. Neal Black told the crowd. "In a generation there will be no one to remember unless we teach our children."
That's why Sandy resident Alison Memmott has taken her children to the annual Healing Field memorial every year since it started in 2002. In addition to honoring the 2,981 people who died on 9/11, the event paid tribute to fallen police officers, firefighters and soldiers. The Hope Rising monument was erected last year.
"I just want them to know," Memmott said, adding she reads books with her children about the tragedy each year at this time. "I think it's important for them to remember."
Her 14-year-old son, Zach, said he has no recollection of the day. But he recalls his mother bringing him to see the of thousands flags posted in the grass outside the Sandy City Center several years later.
"I was just feeling so sad to see how many people died in just one day," he said.
Zach said he has since learned how the nation pulled together at that time and "the spirit of the day has remained with me."
Colonial Flag owner Paul Swenson said he initiated the Healing Field in 2002 as a simple way for people to visualize and comprehend the enormity of human loss on 9/11. Since then, more than 500 cities across the country, often through Swenson's Healing Field organization, have staged similar flag displays.
This year's Utah event almost didn't happen. Swenson said he wanted to take a break after staging it the past decade. But in early August, he said, he started receiving emails from volunteers wanting to put up the flags. The display was scaled back to about 400 American and Utah flags this year.
The state flags honor fallen Utah soldiers, police officers and firefighters, and three who died recently were remembered Sunday.
A military-style "roll call" was held for former Ogden firefighter Jim Judd, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Aaron Beesley and Marine Cpl. Joshua Vielstich. Judd and Vielstich were killed in motorcycle accidents. Beesley died in a fall after helping rescue two stranded hikers.
A 21-gun salute broke the silence followed by a bugler playing taps and two bagpipers playing "Amazing Grace."