About 50 residents of Rosemont Assisted Living in Yelm gathered in a small dining room Wednesday afternoon to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.
Alongside members of American Legion Post 164 and A Hero’s Promise, a local nonprofit serving Gold Star families, members of the small residential community joined in on a 9/11 remembrance ceremony to honor those who passed as a result of the terrorist attacks and reminisce on tenants of Americanism.
During the ceremony, Allen Acosta, executive director of A Hero’s Promise, Allan Ohlsen, post commander and veteran services officer of the American Legion, and Chaplain Jim Smith led the group in the singing of “God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a few light prayers and the dedication of a memorial wreath, brought to the front of the room by Korean War veteran Ron Chilton.
Clad in red, Chilton, 85, who has been a resident of Rosemont for about six months, said he was honored to be a part of the ceremony.
“The ‘Taps’ always get me,” said Chilton, who served in the Marine Corps from 1950 to 1958. “It brings back a lot of heartache.”
Mayor JW Foster, a former Marine, was also in attendance and spoke at the ceremony. He spoke about Yelm’s strong ties to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and what it means to support soldiers and families that give so much.
“Many of their families live here in Yelm. They go to our schools, shop at our stores, they are our neighbors. And we are committed to making Yelm a safe, healthy, happy home for all of them and at the same time remembering the task at hand for our armed forces,” Foster said. “I’m glad we’re here today. It’s a solemn occasion, but at the same time it fills me with an awful lot of pride to be a part of this community.”
Acosta — a retired major in the U.S. Army who served three combat tours and was awarded the Purple Heart — said it is important to realize the importance of the courageous acts of those who fought back against the terrorist attacks on that day and also to remember those who dropped everything to respond to the tragedies that befell on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
“We must heal together as a nation. We must find strength as Americans to pass our grief, stand in unity and find a commitment to peace as Americans. We must stand united, not divided. We must remember — we must never forget,” Acosta said.
During the ceremony, Smith, who served 23 years in the Air Force Reserves and active-duty Air National Guard, told the crowd about how he and his wife got married two weeks after the events of 9/11.
He also led a prayer and told the story of Rick Rescorla, one of many heroes who responded to the call on that fateful Tuesday.
Though solemn and reflective, many left the event with their heads high.