The Colorado Freedom Memorial 2021, 20 years later… never forget

Members of the Colorado Civil Air Patrol salute during the ceremony


Piece of Tower 1 to be used in the schools until Aug 2022.

20 years ago 2,977 American citizens lost their lives in a series of disastrous events.  We absorbed four passenger jets crashing into the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania destined originally for the Capitol or White House.  September 11 is now known as Patriot Day to commemorate the fallen. I wish it was called, Patriots Never Forget Day.   After all, that day lead to an immediate series of events to which thousands more lost their lives to ensure our safety and security here in our home soil.

That day was a brutal act of terrorism against innocent families, just like yours.  We watched stunned as the second plane crashed into that tower.  At that moment we knew this was no  accident, it was murder. With frayed nerves we watched our televisions in hopes that people could be rescued, or get down, or be lifted out from above… helpless in the end as we saw the those enormous towers come crashing down,  taking those souls with them.  The sight was incomprehensible.   As the information was coming in, it was obvious in those moments the vulnerability we had.  This lead to feelings of fear, anger, sadness, protectiveness and retaliation all around our country.  

The Freedom Flag: Blue Background: Americans united for freedom, White Star: all who lived and died for freedom, Five White Bars: The Pentagon and organized protection of our freedom, Top Red Stripe:  Bloodshed related to AA flight 77 and the Pentagon, Bottom Red Stripe:  Bloodshed related to UA flight 93 in Pennsylvania, Two Broad Red Stripes: Bloodshed at the Twin Towers WTC and AA Flight 11 and UA Flight 175, Three White Stripes:  The Fire Fighters, Police Officers and Port Authority workers 

I find myself to be verbally challenged trying to describe for my children what it was like to see that day, but I tried recently, and I needed to take a pause because it is a hard concept to describe; even starting with the passion required for someone to want to commit those acts against innocent people.  I am not from a military family and I didn’t directly lose anyone that day.  But I am an American and I find that when we stop and try to talk about this incident and the entire twenty years of subsequent war, defense, politics, towers, passengers calling families, 911 dispatchers helping, the first responders, subsequent special teams, countless deployments, tax payer dollars, development of Homeland Security, TSA, increased airline regulations, partially undressing at security in airports, continued death and destruction in countries on the other side of the planet with their own slough of problems…it is heartbreaking and a lot of information to retell.  It’s still fresh; twenty years feels like yesterday.  

Over the years we have heard some people say, ”Why are we even over there?”  Despite the reality that mistakes may or may not have been made, or perhaps at times we did too much or not enough, too slow or fast, or went to the wrong place looking for the wrong things…or politics got too involved or intelligence was ineffective…the intent was this:  Our soldiers and government went there to ensure the safety and security of the American public so we can sleep peacefully at night, raise our families, and go to work without worry.  September 11 was a day Americans united and formed a bit of an unbreakable chain gang, no matter their political party, preference, beliefs or affiliations, we collectively had the desires, drive and the will to face this enemy down and avenge the deaths of those almost 3,000 people slain that day.  Of those that died on Sept 11 2001, 111 people called Colorado home.  In the subsequent years another 116 Colorado residents would perish defending America’s Freedom; those are the heroes that pledged to NOT sleep peacefully, battle all hours, put us first, sacrifice time raising their kids, and risk injury and death for us.  

Flag of Honor which is made from the names of all of the victims of Sept 11th 2001.

Did we accomplish our goals; do we feel better yet?  I feel that this is one of those scenarios where you don’t ever win, feel good or vindicated…the victims of the Sept 11th crisis will never return, and those noble warriors that gave their lives trying to stop, and eradicate terror from happening again on our soil will never come home.  But we can keep saying their names…we can force ourselves to talk about that day, we can take the time to educate ourselves and our children on international politics, we can speak up, we can vote, we support veterans and families of the fallen, we can memorialize these heroes and show respect by frequenting the memorial grounds and cemeteries, we can thank war survivors/service members for their service and we can financially donate to any of the above.  These soldiers were and are willing to give their lives for the greater good of our country through life, limb, and mental capacity.  “Never forget” is a duty and obligation as an American for being recipients of their sacrifices.  

The Colorado Freedom Memorial is located at Springhill Community Park 756 Telluride St Aurora, CO 80011

On Sept 11 2021, as every year, they host a Memorial Service to recognize the 111 and 116 fallen Coloradoans.  This year Mayor Piko of Aurora lead the service with a name reading in conjunction with a rose placement to each person, a ringing of the Freedom Bell, The Pledge, the National Anthem, a few prayers and messages of reflection and was closed with the singing of God Bless America.  At this service there was also a piece of the tower 1 on display that will be used to educate children in our schools for the next year. Representative Jason Crow (veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan) also spoke and shared a story from his previous day.  He had just arrived from Washington DC after meeting 9,000 newly arrived refugees from Afghanistan, many of them young children.  He shared a story of a little boy with broken English  who noticed a lanyard on the neck of a soldier.  The lanyard had a flag of Afghanistan.  On the soldiers shoulder there was a flag of America.  The boy with wide eyes said, “Afghanistan Flag”…and then pointed at the American Flag and said, “American Flag.”  He said then, “I am American.”  The Colorado Freedom Memorial is updated regularly to recognize the names of every single fallen soldier from Colorado (over 6,000 killed or MIA) since 1898 during the Spanish-American war to current.  The next event is on November 10-12 where 6280 glass jars will be lit each evening from 5-8 pm to commemorate the fallen and to help us to never forget.

Allison Crouder is our Community Contributor and a realtor with COMPASS, an avid horse lover and a busy mom of four.