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9/11 commemoration in Big Pine Sunday

September 8, 2011

A giant American flag and POW/MIA flag greet southbound travelers entering the town of Big Pine, where community members will be holding a 9/11 commemoration event Sunday on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. The event will also serve as an occasion to honor and thank all those who helped fight the Center Fire in March and contribute to ongoing relief efforts. Photo by Sterling Schat

The community of Big Pine will be holding a special 9/11 commemoration on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The event, a year-and-a-half in the making, is put on by the same residents who have been instrumental in collecting, storing and distributing donations to the victims of the Center Fire of March 2011 – the First United Methodist Church of Big Pine.
The Reverend Dr. Karen Moore said that all she did was put up a poster after the fire and the donations started pouring in.
Sunday’s commemoration will begin and conclude at Mendenhall Park beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. with the playing of “Reveille” and “Taps,” respectively, while the Stars and Stripes fly at half-mast.
Cleo Miles, Big Pine resident for 50 years and who will turn 100 years old on Sept. 22, will help kick off the event as well. The morning will include a breakfast from 7-9 a.m. and a Service of Remembrance at 9:30. The event continues with family fun at 11 with the opening of booths and games.
There be a special passing of the Torch of Freedom at noon with the dais open to anyone with a 9/11 story, personal account, tribute or remembrance. Moore explained the flags will be out to full mast at that time as people are asked to say a few words about 9/11 or the Center Fire.
A labyrinth will also be set up at the church at this time. One of the organizers, Pat Calloway, explained the labyrinth is a maze to be walked through that gives way to spiritual contemplation. There is one way in and one way out. She emphasized that the journey is not meant to invoke any one organized religion but a sense of “soul.” Moore explained that the church’s labyrinth is fragile and made of canvas so people are asked to remove their shoes before walking.
The honoring of first responders and fire fighters from the Center Fire will be at 3 p.m. during the Ceremony of Gratitude: Let Freedom Ring.
Sage Romero and dancers will perform with traditional Native American drumming at 4. There will also be hot dogs and other sundries for sale to help cover the cost of the event only, Calloway explained, as the commemoration is not a fundraiser. The event will conclude with “Taps” played by Stan Smith.
Throughout the day people are encouraged to walk the fence at the ball field where the names of all those who have perished on 9/11 – in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, as well as all those who have died in the proceeding wars – will be on display.
Moore added there will be a special presentation from Senator Barbara Boxer’s office, “for those who saved our town.”
Those to receive a recognition from Boxer’s office include: the Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department, Big Pine Schools, the Big Pine Civic Club, the City of Bishop and the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Mono County Sheriff’s Department, the Community of Lone Pine and the Lone Pine Volunteer Fire Department, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire, U.S. Forest Service Fire Fighters, the Community of Independence and the Independence Volunteer Fire Department, and the Chalfant Volunteer Fire Department who brought some clothing and special gifts for the fire survivors. “Special recognition will also be given to the Olancha Volunteer Fire Department who was ready to help when and where needed,” Moore added.
The following businesses and people who gave so much to Big Pine will also be recognized with certificates and much deserved accolades – many made by Big Pine students, Moore said.
The list is massive and includes: Bishop Youth Football League, McDonald’s Restaurants, Inyo Mono Association for the Handicapped Sierra Thrift Store, Second Chance Shops, D and J Snowmobile Adventures, Mammoth Hospital, Chevron, High Country Lumber, High Country Market, Big Pine Shell, the Salvation Army, Country Kitchen, Vons in Mammoth and Bishop, Carroll’s Market, the Big Pine Civic Club, Dave and Roma McCoy, Bishop Waste, Preferred Septic and Disposal, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison, Fendon’s Furniture, Coca Cola Bottling, the Big Pine Civic Club, Bishop Rotary Club, the Honorable Judge Brian Lamb, Britt’s Diesel, Tom’s Place employees, Big Pine American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars in Bishop, the Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action, The Inyo Register, Sierra Wave Radio and TV, Alta One and Eastern Sierra Community Bank.
Moore said that the list does not even touch on the incredible amount of support and nickels, dimes and many dollars given by individuals.
She said houses of worship and congregations will also be thanked for their spiritual intervention.
“All of the churches will be recognized because it was the prayers of those in church that were answered through the generosity of the community,” Moore said. “Their prayers brought out the generosity.”
Moore explained the commemoration has been 18 months in the making. When the events took place 10 years ago, Big Pine answered President George W. Bush’s call for towns willing to hold memorial services for the fallen. She said the importance of the 10-year anniversary is that there has not been a repeat terrorist attack.
She added the event lent itself as a vehicle to honor those who have and are still helping with the Center Fire.
“Thanks for helping to restore our town,” she said.

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