Flag waving in remembrance of 9/11 to take place Sunday in Joppa

Every year on 9/11 people congregate at the Route 152 overpass at I-95 to wave flags in honor of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

This year, the 10th anniversary of the largest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, the event is expected to take place in the same way.

From 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday, people will gather to wave flags and show their national pride and mourn the painful day 10 years ago.

"We always try to do it on the day," Del. Pat McDonough, who is responsible for organizing the event every year, said Thursday.

He explained a large number of people usually turn out with flags in hand and the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company usually comes out for the occasion with an engine and a giant flag.

"It's a flag waving tribute to the families and the victims," McDonough said.

He described the event as simple, without speeches or an exaggerated sense of ceremony, but nevertheless powerful.

"It's just something that people on the bridge experience in a very personal way," McDonough said.

McDonough said people from far and wide come to the tribute and thousands of cars participate by honking horns and waving back.

"Literally thousands and I mean thousands of people in cars in a way they participate too," McDonough said. "The horn blowing is overwhelming and continuous."

McDonough recounted several moving stories from the past few years of holding the tribute.

"A few years ago a fellow came up on the bridge and was shaking everyone's hand," McDonough said.

The man had tears streaming down his face as he approached McDonough and explained he was a doctor in Lancaster, Pa., and was driving along I-95 when he saw the flags. The sight inspired the man to stop and personally thank those involved because his brother was the pilot of the plane that was hijacked on 9/11 and flown into the Pentagon, McDonough said.

Another year, a young man brought his great grandfather to the event. The older man was blind and had been a Nazi prisoner of war during World War II. When someone commented that it was a shame he could not see all the flags, "He said well, I can hear them," McDonough said.

He said every year there is an amazing story that comes out of the event.

"Its something we cannot ever forget," McDonough said of 9/11.

McDonough expects the event to go on as planned, but always defers to Maryland State Police in concerns of safety.

"There's always weather concerns and if it's really bad, state police recommend you don't do it," McDonough said, later adding, "We don't mind getting a little wet but you've got to be aware of the safety of drivers on I-95."

If visibility is a problem and the flags could distract drivers from dangerous driving conditions, the tribute may not take place.

"You've got to be responsible about these things," McDonough said.

He added the event is facing a challenge of a different kind this year.

"Now we're competing with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ravens, we've never done that before," McDonough said.

Nevertheless, McDonough expects a good turnout.

The event is open to the public and attendees are encouraged to bring a flag, their kids and their pets to the family friendly commemoration.

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