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9/11 Remembrance Services to be Held in the Flathead

High turnout expected for 20th anniversary of September 11th attacks

By Maggie Dresser
A firefighter holds an American flag in front of the Bigfork Fire Department in recognition of Sept. 11, 2001. Beacon file photo

Twenty years after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the 9/11 Honor and Serve Foundation based out of Bigfork is hosting its annual memorial ceremony at Wrangler Springs Ranch. 

To bring awareness to the 20th anniversary, organizers filled the farmland north of Bigfork off of Highway 35 with a “Field of Honor” display of 300 American flags with laminated dedication cards attached to honor those who served. 

“We’re based on the motto, ‘honor through service,’” 9/11 Honor and Serve Foundation President Bill Thomas said. “It’s a very patriotic and visual display.”

Thomas expects the turnout to be higher than normal this year for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

The memorial ceremony will also include bagpipes, mounted and military veteran flag presenters, honor guard and rifle team, along with keynote speaker Micah Fink, the cofounder of the Manhattan, Montana-based Heroes and Horses, a nonprofit program utilizing horses to help veterans cope with PTSD. 

The future U.S.S. Montana bell, which will be aboard the U.S. Navy fleet in 2022, will be featured in an honor ringing ceremony. The Montana gold and silver encrusted bell has been traveling around the state before the U.S.S. Montana Commissioning Committee presents it to the nuclear submarine next year. 

Donations for Heroes for Horses and the Paladin Conservancy, a program to help expose youth to ranch work, can be made at the ceremony.  

The foundation started in 2014 to honor four Americans who were killed in the Benghazi attacks in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. Thomas and Doug Averill of Bigfork built the Benghazi Monument and held an inaugural ceremony in 2014 and it has since become an annual event to honor both the Benghazi and New York attacks.  

The memorial ceremony will be held on Saturday, Sept. 11 at Wrangler Springs Ranch in Bigfork at 4 p.m. Admission and parking is free and open to the public. 

Separately, a Remembrance Day of Service will be held at Flathead Lake State Park Wayfarers Unit on Sept. 11 where volunteers can pull noxious weeds, conduct trail work, trash pickup and stain picnic tables. 

To volunteer, RSVP to william.stout@mt.gov or call (406) 837-3041 and meet at the Harry Horn day-use area in Wayfarers Unit at 10 a.m. Work gear and snacks will be provided. 

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