This year was the 13th annual flag-waving event on an I-95 overpass in Joppa to remember the 9/11 attacks.

Korean War veteran Bob Banker found himself reflecting on his time in the war Friday as he stood among people gathered on an I-95 overpass in Joppa waving American flags to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"I've come here many a time," the Fallston resident said. "I just like to be here."


Banker was reminded, as he stood among the flag wavers, of a time more than 60 years ago when he saw the Stars and Stripes waving over a U.S. military depot in South Korea as he and his fellow troops prepared to return home at the end of their tour of duty.

"I thought, 'That's my flag, that's my country, I'm going home tomorrow,'" he recalled.

Banker was one of about 140 people from Harford County and other parts of the Baltimore region who spent several hours holding American flags and waving at motorists heading north and south on I-95.

They stood on the Old Mountain Road South overpass, parking their vehicles in the nearby park-and-ride lot.

The flag-waving event has been held every year since 2002 to commemorate the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people died after hijacked passenger aircraft were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania.

Del. Pat McDonough started the event with his colleague in Annapolis, Del. Rick Impallaria. Both legislators represent western Harford County and eastern Baltimore County. McDonough worked with his former legislative aide, Jean Wilson, to put on Friday's annual event.

McDonough said Wilson, who now volunteers with him, helps coordinate with the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company. The fire company makes regular appearances at the flag-waving events – a large flag usually hangs from two ladder trucks.

The firefighters were there Friday with their trucks, and members were at each end of the overpass directing traffic and ensuring the safety of the flag wavers.

Both trucks departed early, however, to respond to an emergency call. Firefighters quickly took the flag down and sped off to the call, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

Drivers on I-95 honked at people on the overpass. McDonough said later it seemed to him that they were "a little more intense or enthusiastic" than prior years.

"They were waving, they were giving thumbs up, and I just believe that the reason for that is, people just feel insecure today and they are concerned about the growth in terrorism, the Iran [nuclear] deal, ISIS," he said."All of these things are on their minds, and I believe that when they see the tribute and the fact that people remember 9/11, it gives them courage; it gives them a feeling that there are people that care."

McDonough, a Republican, stressed the event is "not about party, it's not about politics, and everybody's welcome."

A number of people who have been there in the past were there Friday, but McDonough said he met many people who he had not seen before.

"There were a number of young people there also, which is wonderful," he said.


Shannon Malloy, 12, of Bel Air, came with her grandmother, 71-year-old Darlinda Ruzek, of Bel Air.

The attacks happened two years before Shannon was born in 2003; her 15-year-old brother was only a year old on 9/11/01.

They have grown up with the legacy of 9/11, which includes increased security at airports and a war against Islamic extremists that continues today.

"We're alive, and we're letting the world know that we care," Ruzek said.

Shannon, who is a seventh grader at Patterson Mill Middle School, said her teachers share their memories of the attacks each year.

"My science teacher said they weren't allowed to tell the kids what was going on, even though a bunch of parents were coming and picking up their kids," she said.

Shannon said her sixth grade social studies teacher helped her and her classmates keep up with world events by going through the newspaper each day.

"I thought that was really nice, because we would know to a greater extent what was going on around the world so that we can appreciate what we have here," she said.

Shannon said she doesn't watch the news on a regular basis, though. She and her friends talk more about school and their peers and "irrelevant topics that grown ups will never understand," rather than world events.

Steve Padgett, of Aberdeen, brought about eight adult and youth members of Trail Life USA Troop 518 to the overpass.

The troop meets in Perry Hall, and its members come from Harford County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

Padgett said Trail Life USA is "a Christ-centered group" designed to connect youths with God through being in the outdoors.

He said he brought the group to the overpass Friday because "9/11 was a pivotal event in the history of our country."

"We have to show our younger people that it's an event not to be forgotten," Padgett said. "We [adults] all remember it, but the oldest boy in our troop was 3 when it happened; none of them remember it."

Ken Hatch, of Annapolis, received an email reminder from McDonough about Friday's event. He said he had to return a dog to a friend who lives in Abingdon Friday.

"I planned my day to make sure I ended up here," he said.

The retired podiatrist served in the Army from 1968 to 1974, and his son is a major in the Air Force Reserve.

His son has been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey; he recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait.

Hatch said he enjoys the flag-waving.

"I hope that enthusiasm continues, to help get people motivated to take care of the veterans that are coming back," he said.