Local emergency responders to hold 9/11 ceremony on Saturday

20th anniversary of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is on firefighters, vets’ minds

A piece of the North Tower of the World Trade Center stands outside of the downtown Aspen Fire Department Station to honor the firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and local emergency responders and members of the military will memorialize those who lost their lives in two annual ceremonies being held in Aspen and Snowmass.

The first will be held at noon at the Aspen Fire Station in downtown Aspen on Hopkins Avenue.

The block will be closed to vehicles beginning at 10:30 a.m. so two ladder trucks, one from Roaring Fork Fire and the other Aspen Fire, can be erected and a large American Flag can fly above the station.

Live music will be played Smokin’ Joe Kelly shortly before the noon ceremony, and five vintage World War II planes will do a flyover.

“For the 20th anniversary, nothing is over the top,” Aspen Fire Chief Rick Balentine said. “There are so many things about this year, with COVID and the 20th anniversary, our theme is unity, not just in our community but around the world.”

Aspen Police officer Ritchie Zah will play “Amazing Grace” on violin and Richard Sundeen will again play tap on bugle.

Speakers during the ceremony include Aspen Fire Deputy Chief Jake Andersen, APD Assistant Chief Bill Lynn, Lt. Col. Dick Merritt of the U.S. Marine Corps., local resident Dick Butera who was near the Twin Towers when they fell that morning of Sept. 11, along with Aspen Ambulance District Director Gabe Muething and Father Darrick Leir from St. Mary Catholic Church and Rabbi Itzhak Vardy.

A piece of the North Tower of the World Trade Center stands outside of the downtown Aspen Fire Department Station to honor the firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Aspen Fire also will be showcasing the work of Andrea Booher, an Aspen resident and photojournalist who was at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center’s north and south tower collapsed.

It’s an all-outside event and Grassroots TV will be live streaming, Balentine said.

“It should be a really special year,” he said.

A charity luncheon follows at Café D’Angelo and wine tasting with Daou Vineyards at 1:30 p.m., which will raise money for two local nonprofits, Huts for Vets and Axes and Arms.

Axes and Arms, which represents local police, firefighters and emergency responders, will be holding its traditional remembrance walk up Brush Creek Road in Snowmass at 6 p.m. from town park to the top of the village.

Local firefighters walk to the top of Snowmass Village to honor those fallen on 9/11 during the fifth annual Axes and Arms climb on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. The firefighters gain 956 feet in elevation during the march wearing their full gear. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

It’s the same distance and elevation gain that firefighters walked from the bottom of the World Trade Center to the top in an effort to save the lives of people who were trapped.

“We walk from the park to the village to assimilate the walk firefighters took before the towers collapsed,” Roaring Fork Fire Chief Scott Thompson said. “This year is pretty special because of the 20th anniversary and we always have the public join us and this year I’d like to knock it out of the park.”

Andersen was one of the founding members of Axes and Arms in the Roaring Fork Valley when he was a firefighter in Snowmass Village.

The group is made up of emergency responders who raise money for and give support to their fellow colleagues who are in need of assistance, whether it’s their families needing help in times of trouble, or individuals.

“No one gets compensated (who works for Axes and Arms) and it’s meant for the money to stay in the valley,” Andersen said. “It’s not just money, if they need child care, or a hotel room after chemotherapy, rides to specialists, or a wheelchair ramp where we buy the lumber and get it built, we are there.”