Roanoke Co., VA - Large ceremonies for the September 11 attack in our area were few and far between this year. There were only three public events in Danville and one in Galax.
Roanoke County was the only other locality to observe the day, and that one almost didn't happen.
The county wasn't planning on an event this year until one group that has been working to preserve "Patriot Day" celebrations decided to leave their mark in that county as well.
Since the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Woodmen of the World Insurance Company has donated hundreds of flag poles to communities, all on September 11, as a way of continuing to honor the victims and heroes from that terrible day.
Steve Bishop is an area manager for the group, and this year, among many others across the country, Roanoke County's Firearm Training Center got the nod.
"It gives great personal satisfaction to give back to the community but also to help people remember how it is we have acquired these freedoms," said Bishop.
But the fact is, had the Woodmen of the World not approached Roanoke County with the donation, this service would have not been held.
"I'm amazed really. Disappointed I should say," said Bishop.
Hollins College assistant professor Dr. Jon Bohland says Roanoke County isn't alone and the lack of any memorial is not a sign of a country growing apathetic. He says people are looking to move beyond the event without totally forgetting about it; focusing on large celebrations on key anniversary years.
It doesn't matter to Bishop and his colleagues. They are committed to indefinitely continuing these gestures in the future because they say the day is just too important for people to set aside.
"We need to remember what happened. We need to remember the heroes and the victims. It's like any of the events in our history dare us to forget," said Bishop.
Of course there are many other signs that people remember like all the flags flying at half staff. But even more telling are the small hints of thanks the public is showing to first responders. One fire house in Roanoke was brought lunch by a local Olive Garden.