When Sept. 11 comes again this year, it will have been 18 years since the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The first group of children who were born following the events of 9/11 are reaching adulthood this year. The passage of time, and the promise to never forget, motivated Dennis Tracey to host a special remembrance on Sunday, Sept. 8 during the 11 a.m. service at the Tooele United Methodist Church.
“I believe in this, that our youth have to have a sense of history,” Tracey said. “We have a whole generation now that has grown up since 9/11.”
The 9/11 remembrance will include relevant music and a talk by Tracey, which will feature a strong visual representation of the death toll in armed conflicts since the terrorist attacks. Tracey said he will drop a penny into a bowl for each of the U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq War.
A total of 2,977 people were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, excluding the 19 hijackers. In just the initial operations of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, there were 4,432 and 2,353 total deaths, respectively.
“It’s now been 18 years since 9/11 took place and we still have men and women dying in Afghanistan,” said Tracey, a Vietnam War veteran.
Tracey was working at the satellite operation center at the U.S. Army’s Fort Detrick in Maryland when 9/11 occurred.
“I watched 18,19, 20-year-old kids turn into soldiers in just a moment’s time,” he said.
While the ensuing wars will be part of the Sept. 8 service, Tracey said he will also focus on the first responders on 9/11. In the attack on the World Trade Centers, there were 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers among those killed.
“I don’t think our first responders get near the credit that they deserve,” Tracey said.
An American flag that Tracey will have with him for the remembrance includes the names of everyone who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“All of the people who died on 9/11 are in the stripes of that flag,” he said.
Part of the message of the service will be Christians are all first responders if they see something wrong or someone hurting, Tracey said.
The Tooele United Methodist Church is located at 78 E. Utah Ave. and holds regular Sunday services at 11 a.m. Both the church and the special remembrance are open to the public.