AS THE NATION observes the solemn anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Mount Airy will remember two of its own.
A memorial park will be dedicated to the local victims, Army Chief Warrant Officer William Ruth and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Vauk, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Ruth and Vauk, both of Mount Airy, were killed when a plane commandeered by the terrorists struck the Pentagon.
"We're not New York City, but the impact [of the attacks] has been felt as personally, as deeply here," said Carol Cahall, owner of the Main Event, a party supply store on Main Street.
Cahall brought the idea of establishing a memorial park in remembrance of the local victims to the Town Council.
"There was this empty, wasted little lot that I thought would be perfect for a little bench and flowers as a memorial right in the heart of town," Cahall said.
In less than a month, the council and the town's Parks and Recreation Committee literally moved the earth to make that happen.
Town workers graded the site, merchants donated plants and flowers, and Lough Memorials of Frederick created the polished granite memorial stone.
"There has been a little part in all of us dreading the anniversary of the attacks," said council President Frank Johnson, who feels the memorial will help the community.
"It's a little bit of defiance," he said. "The intent of the attacks on the Pentagon and the twin towers was to paralyze, or at the very least frighten, Americans and tear away at our sense of community. And this [memorial] is a beginning to bring the community together."
The memorial park will be on part of a lot, near the corner of Main and Center streets, that was created when a building was torn down to allow for the widening of Center Street.
"Mount Airy's Main Street is as Americana as you can get," Cahall said.
That's also reflected, she said, in the spirit of the merchants and residents who have donated time and materials to prepare the park's dedication on the anniversary of the attacks.
The memorial stone is a gift to the town from private sources. Part of the funds for the bench in the park have been donated by the Kiwanis Club of Mount Airy. Patriotic decorations for the dedication will be donated by the Main Event.
The ceremony to dedicate the granite memorial stone inscribed with Ruth's and Vauk's names is open to the public. An invocation will be given by retired local minister Gordon Narveson. Johnson and Mayor James Holt will speak.
Other local politicians are expected to attend. The families of Ruth and Vauk have been invited.
This weekend, American Legion Gold Post 191 of Mount Airy and Veterans of Foreign Wars Four Counties Post 10076 will sponsor a Patriot Day service at 3 p.m. Sunday at Pine Grove Chapel on South Main Street.
Ruth was commander at the local VFW.
"We must never let our children forget that freedom is bought with the lives and blood of patriots," said Arthur Brett of American Legion Gold Post 191.
The program, open to the public, will begin with the raising and then lowering to half-staff of the American flag. Representatives from the two posts and local fire and police officials will speak.
One of two monuments bearing the names of town residents killed in World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam War will be rededicated with the addition of Ruth's and Vauk's names. Their families have been invited to attend.
The program will conclude with a prayer, the firing of three rounds by American Legion Post 168 color guard from Thurmont and the playing of taps.
Books for families
Mount Airy Middle School sixth-grader Katie Nunemaker presented 250 copies of her mother's book, Colored Dreams, Angel Wings, to the Fallen Firefighter's Foundation at a ceremony in Frederick last month.
The book, written by Mary Nunemaker to help her and her family cope with their grief after her husband's death from cancer, explores a small child's perception of death and her visions of angels.
Nunemaker had solicited sponsors to buy these books, to be donated to the families of victims of the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
"I just hope it brings them comfort to know that our loved ones who are no longer here physically remain in our hearts and souls and every part of our daily lives," she said.
Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.