WASHINGTON – Ada Davis’ family will be at Arlington National Cemetery today to lay a wreath on the grave of Davis, one of the 59 Maryland residents killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon.
Then the Davises head for a community picnic.
“We kind of play it by ear,” said Ada’s youngest daughter, Rosslyn Davis of Camp Springs. “We want to remember my mom, but we want to do it privately.”
Like the Davises, people across Maryland are observing the third anniversary of the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks with a mix of commemoration — like an early-morning reading of the ?Gettysburg Address? at Salisbury University — and celebration — like the Havre de Grace Duck Fair.
Timothy O’Rourke, dean of liberal arts at Salisbury University, said the school’s second commemorative event is intended to be “short and compelling.”
O’Rourke started the tradition of reading President Lincoln’s 1863 speech last year, he said, because it “focuses on what’s important to us as Americans . . . . It brings us together for that brief period of time to focus on 9/11.”
In Hagerstown, the city is honoring its first responders — firefighters, police, emergency medical personnel and military — with a tree-planting and procession ending at a local mall, where a wreath is being laid at a memorial wall.
“On Sept. 11, everyone should take a moment to reflect on what happened and then learn from that,” said Verna Brown, emergency management coordinator for Washington County. “It’s all about being prepared all the time.”
For other community groups, fund raisers or other events traditionally planned for the second weekend in September are proceeding despite the 9/11 anniversary.
The Decoy Museum in Havre de Grace has been holding its Duck Fair the weekend after Labor Day for 17 years, and museum volunteer Eleanor Cole said rescheduling was not even considered.
Other groups are adding a commemorative note to their events.
Baltimore’s 28th annual Ukrainian Festival begins today in Patterson Park with the release of a flight of doves. On the lighter side, Elvis impersonators taking the stage in Hagerstown to raise funds to build a performing arts high school will be crooning some of the King’s patriotic songs, like “American Trilogy” and “America the Beautiful.”
Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said event organizers did weigh the pros and cons of rescheduling, but in the end decided: “Let’s do it. Let it be a celebration of what’s good about America.”
Having mixed feelings about the 9/11 anniversary is entirely normal, said Lisa McKillop, executive director of Hospice Caring Inc., a nonprofit in Montgomery County that offers hospice services and bereavement counseling.
“Some people feel to celebrate goes against the families (and) might disrespect the people who died,” she said. “Others feel we only let the terrorists win if we change our lives.”
Herb Wolk of Highland, whose son-in-law, Navy Lt. Darin Pontell, was killed at the Pentagon, said he appreciates both people’s desire to remember 9/11 and their need to move on. He will attend a commemorative event in Montgomery County Saturday morning with family members, including his daughter, Devora Pontell.
“I would not take offense,” of other people’s plans, said Wolk. “It’s not American.”
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