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New location, same sentiment for Sept. 11 memorial event

Photo Credit: TIDINGS FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - In the past, the annual Sept. 11 memorial event was held at the Willamette Park boat ramp. This year, it will move to the new West Linn police station. After years of holding West Linn’s annual 9/11: Honoring Those Who Serve event at the Willamette Park Boat Ramp, organizer Dean Suhr has found a brand new location for the memorial.

Next week, on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m., the ceremony will take place at the new police station on 1800 8th Avenue. In the run up to the Sept. 11 anniversary, Suhr and other volunteers will be tying yellow “West Linn Remembers” ribbons at the A Street Bridge, and the event itself will include a flag ceremony and the placing of flowers inside the police station.

“We will be asking residents to make a community bouquet of flowers that we can put inside the station afterwards,” Suhr said.

This is Suhr’s fourth year as the primary organizer of the event, and he said it extends well beyond the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“We honor those who serve today as well,” Suhr said, “including the 50,000 wounded in the war on terror and with a local focus on our police, fire, medical and even public works folks who work to keep us safe and serve us in the event of catastrophe by running in to help when we run away to safety.”

The ribbon tying will formally begin Sept. 9, but Suhr said all are welcome to do so on their own time.

“We encourage families to stop by, take a moment and pause and reflect, and then tie on their own ribbon,” Suhr said.

Last year, Suhr also spoke with two groups of high school students about Sept. 11, and he hopes to do so again this time around.

“The students were four or five years old at the time of the attacks,” Suhr said. “So the most they remember through direct experience is how their parents were reacting.”

From the first anniversary in 2002 through the eighth in 2009, the city held its remembrance ceremony on the Arch Bridge between West Linn and Oregon City. The bridge would be closed off, and the mayors of both cities would meet in the middle before throwing a wreath into the river. Community members followed by dropping their own flowers shortly thereafter.

On the ninth anniversary, in 2010, the event was canceled because it would have fallen on a Sunday. When the monumental 10th anniversary arrived a year later, the Arch Bridge was under construction, but Suhr wasn’t going to let another year pass without a ceremony.

So, with his guidance, the event moved to Willamette Park, where the wreath and flowers could still be thrown into the river like in years past. A PA system allowed for a few spoken words — and indeed, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden spoke at the 10th anniversary event — but it mostly remained a silent commemoration.

Now, the event is undergoing another evolution at the police station, but Suhr has not abandoned Willamette Park as a venue.

“We will return to the water in two years, on the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11,” Suhr said.

Representatives from the West Linn Police Department and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue will be on hand, and invitations were also sent out to Oregon State Police, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and park service firefighters.

“The men and women of the fire, police, medical, military and public works don’t want to be honored as heroes, but indeed they are,” Suhr said. “At West Linn’s Honoring Those Who Serve events, we respectfully recognize and pay our deepest respects to those who have given their lives, and who at great personal risk serve us today.”

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Contact Patrick Malee at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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