DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s been 20 years, but Iowans are still looking back on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Nearly 3,000 people died that day from those attacks, but those here in Iowa are doing what they can to help people remember that day.
On WHO Radio, retired Des Moines police officers remembered the impact back then. Retired Des Moines Lt. Kelly Willis said that 9/11 caused some to consider joining the ranks of the police force.
“The helplessness feeling was what a lot of people felt and you couldn’t help but your heart was broke for those victims,” said Willis. “I really think the correlation of what the Greatest Generation went through with Pearl Harbor fits this scene … this is our Pearl Harbor.”
“We wanted to focus on people’s stories and the ripple effects of 9/11. We had people that told us they couldn’t listen. They actually told us we’re going to tune out from the news this weekend because it’s still too painful,” said Maxwell Schaeffer of WHO Radio. He hosted the morning discussion on his radio show, then was busy out at Gray’s Lake helping get the 3,000 flags in place. “What I love about this is everybody showed up. It’s very organic. I think years ago we try to have some semblance of order about lines, flags it ended up people just wanted to plant them.”
“It’s very touching to see people come out here and put on this flag memorial, especially with the 20th anniversary coming up,” said Jonathan Bagley of Bondurant.
This Sept. 11, 2021, is also called a Day of Serving. Volunteer Iowa is helping to ask people to pledge their time to serve others.
“We have the pledge to serve. It’s online, take it whenever you would like. We’re just asking people to go online, choose how many hours they would like to serve if they have any plans to serve, tell us about that, but no pressure,” said Kamryn Ryan of Volunteer Iowa.
Also, the Ames Fire Department placed 343 flags on the lawn by Station One to commemorate the 343 New York firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. The Gray’s Lake flags and the Ames Fire Department display will be up all weekend.