This year marks the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
The date is now observed as Patriot Day or as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. While COVID-19 concerns have required some events to be canceled, there are commemorations and ceremonies open to the public that are to be held in the Phoenix area, some virtually.
The annual Phoenix 911 Tower Challenge held at Gila River Arena has transitioned to a virtual format, organizers said.
“In honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001, and in continued honor of our first responders and military who protect us from foreign and domestic threats, we gather to pay our respects at the annual 911 Tower Challenge,” according to a release.
“The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers each consisted of 110 floors and 2,071 steps, and each year thousands of people across Arizona walk, climb and run the stairs to remember. Firefighters in full gear, police, military and bomb squad personnel march steadily alongside civilians of varying ages, abilities and backgrounds,” it states.
Go to 911towerchallengefoundation.org to register. Virtual attendees will find a location such as a gym stair-stepper, running/walking or high school stadium steps to complete the challenge on their own.
U.S. flags will be placed at Apache Junction’s focal point, on the northeast corner of Phelps Drive and West Apache Trail, in remembrance of those who died on Sept. 11, VFW Post No. 7968 Auxiliary President Dani Greene said.
“On Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. we will be putting up flags at the focal point in remembrance to the Sept. 11th tragedy and all that lost their lives. All are welcome to help,” she said.
“Our post will be doing a flag raising as well at our Post No. 7968 at 12 p.m., followed by coffee and cake,” she said.
VFW Post No. 7968 is at 250 S. Phelps Drive in Apache Junction.
On Sept. 11, volunteers will replace tattered U.S. flags dropped off by community members with new flags, Ms. Greene said.
“We have purchased flags that the community can come in, turn in their tattered flags, and we will exchange them for a new one — no cost — and dispose of them properly,” she said.
The tattered-flag project is being held in conjunction with the city of Apache Junction, Apache Junction Parks and Recreation, and the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, she said.
VFW Post No. 7968 is open to the public for a membership drive Sept. 11 with lunch 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., bingo at 3 p.m., and dinner and live music 5-9 p.m. Call 480-671-6239 for information.
Also on Sept. 11, Hatfield Medical Group, 300 S. Phelps Drive in Apache Junction, is hosting a Patriot Day event from 10 to 11 a.m. to color pictures for troops serving overseas. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the community room is limited to how many may attend. Call 480-536-6840 to register for the event.
“The Color for our Troops is that after the people who are signed up for this class color their picture, I will send those pictures to a place called ‘Packages from Home.’ They will place a picture in each package with a message from the individual who colored it,” Nancy Fassbender, community event coordinator for Hatfield Medical Group, said.
“These packages go to our troops who are overseas. The soldiers enjoy reading the individual message and many times will hang up the picture in their locker,” she said.
The United Salt River Firefighters 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, held last year at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, also will be a virtual format.
The annual charity stair climb benefits the National Fallen Firefighters and other local charities.
“This event is a way to honor and remember the FDNY Firefighters, police, EMS and other first responders that gave the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11/2001. Each participant climbs 110 stories carrying a picture of a fallen brother/sister to symbolically complete their heroic journey to save those in need,” according to Facebook @saltriver911stairclimb. “We are opening up our registration website for donations and encouraging participants to engage in our ‘virtual’ stair climb.”
Register at events.firehero.org/site/TR?fr_id=2205&pg=entry.
The town of Queen Creek is asking residents to give the gift of life in honor of the National Day of Service and Remembrance by donating at a blood drive.
Last year’s event was held on Sept. 11. This year it will be Sept. 14, Constance Halonen-Wilson, public information officer, said.
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and adhere to physical distancing guidelines, the drive will take place in the Zane Grey Room of the Queen Creek Library, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road. Advance appointments are encouraged to help maintain physical distancing; go to Bloodhero.com (use sponsor code QueenCreek) or call 877-258-4825 to reserve a donation time.
If Queen Creek is too far to drive, a search of Sept. 11 at Bloodhero.com showed blood drives that day in Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale.