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Patriot Day teaches youth in Mount Airy

Mount Airy Mayor Patrick Rockinberg speaks during a ceremony at the Pine Grove Chapel in Mt. Airy Tuesday in honor of Commander Ronald Vauk and Chief Warrant Officer William Ruth, who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mount Airy Mayor Patrick Rockinberg speaks during a ceremony at the Pine Grove Chapel in Mt. Airy Tuesday in honor of Commander Ronald Vauk and Chief Warrant Officer William Ruth, who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

MOUNT AIRY - The memories of Sept. 11, 2001 have lived on for the youth of Mount Airy, who attend a Patriot Day memorial every year, organized by the local American Legion, Marine Corps League, Civil Air Patrol and Boy and Girl Scouts in the area.

Commander Ronald J. Vauk and Chief Warrant Officer William Ruth, both residents of Mount Airy, lost their lives at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. There were 125 people who died at the Pentagon on the day of the attacks, and over 2,000 at the World Trade Center.

"On that day the jet the jihadists hijacked became a missile and they became its target. Like true patriots, they gave their lives so we and our families might live," said Mayor Patrick Rockinberg, who gave a speech at the event.

Both men were career officers, said Bob Rossi, the American Legion chaplain. Ruth was in the Army Reserves at the time of his death, and was a decorated Marine, who fought in Operation Desert Storm, said Ross. Vauk was a Naval Officer who worked at the Pentagon.

In 2009, Rossi began working to make the annual Patriot Day event more centered on teaching children about the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon. Rossi organized so many youth groups from the Civil Air Patrol to the Girl Scouts in 2010 when he realized there was not enough room to hold all of the attendees.

The event was moved from Main Street to the American Legion, and now resides at the Pine Grove Chapel. The memorial plaque was also moved to the Pine Grove Chapel in 2011, which had 235 people. Fewer children were able to make it to the event this year, but Rossi said it was because the day fell in the middle of the week.

"I think it's very important to show our support for the community, and let all these young people who were too young to remember that day to understand what happened," Jeff Tunkel, the cub master for Cub Scout troop 460, said.

Tunkel brought his two children, aged 7 and 11, to the event.

"It gives them a little bit of a connection to the history of the past," Tunkel said.

The event also featured a 21 gun salute by the Marine Corps League and a rendition of taps.

"In 10 years of working with veterans, I now know any vet would be happy to be remembered, but it's the young ones that are doing it," Rossi said.

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