Howard Gregory and Ron Krauklis

Howard Gregory, Public Information Officer for American Legion Post 104, relinquishes the podium to keynote speaker Sgt. 1st Class Ron Krauklis, U.S. Army (retired) at the 9/11 ceremony Wednesday at the Veterans Wall of Honor in front of the Appomattox Court House on Court Street. Krauklis was stationed at Fort Belvoir, in Alexandria, Virginia, during 9/11. He was working the front gate into Fort Belvoir as a member of the post's military police on that morning when he learned of the news.

Members of American Legion Post 104, VFW Post 9855, military veterans, Appomattox County law enforcement, fire and rescue first responders, local residents and visitors from abroad came together in unprecedented numbers at the “Wall of Honor” Memorial in front of the Appomattox Court House on Wednesday morning.

For a short time, the somber assembly, made up of individuals from various and sundry walks of life and responsibilities, stood together with no distinguishing title save one — American Citizen — and no responsibility save one — to fulfill a promise that our nation made 18 years ago on that morning: We will never forget.

The assembly had gathered once again to honor and pay homage to the memory of the 2,977 souls lost in the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and to the passengers of flight 93 as their plane crashed in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001. Passengers came together seeking to intervene and prevent the hijacked jet from becoming another weapon of mass destruction.

The group had gathered Wednesday morning also to remember and to honor equally the efforts of both trained first responders and average Joe Americans who worked for days and nights on end, searching the rubble for survivors.

Pick up the upcoming Sept. 18 issue of the Times Virginian to read more of this story.