Yon Abel, commander of American Legion Post 674 in Toddville, says the dark day is still very fresh in his mind but he knows most young people won’t likely hold the event with the same reverence from reading about it in a history book.
“I know growing up, listening to my parents talk about John F. Kennedy, my mom and dad could tell you where they were, what they were doing,” Abel says. “Nine-eleven is kind of my moment for my generation or the generation since then, ‘Where were you on 9-11 when you found out this occurred?’ It’s a good opportunity for us to educate people who aren’t familiar with it.” Toddville, located just north of Cedar Rapids, will be marking 9-11 with a bell-ringing ceremony, one known in the fire service as “Four Fives.”
“When a firefighter is killed in the line of duty or dies in the line of duty, it’s been tradition probably back to the 1800s to ring five bells four times,” Abel says. “What we’re going to do is ring the bell at approximately each of the times that the aircraft on that date crashed in the various locations in commemoration of all the people that were involved in that tragedy.”
The bells will ring that morning at 8:45, 9:03, 9:43 and 10 o’clock. Each ring commemorates the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center, United Airlines Flight 175 into the south tower of the World Trade Center, American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 which went down in a field about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Abel says Sunday’s bell tolling events will be open to everyone and he’s hoping there are plenty of young and old alike. “We’ve borrowed the bell from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department,” Abel says. “We’ll have our local volunteer fire department there from the Monroe Township. We’ve also got other community organizations like the Eastern Iowa Civil Air Patrol, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H. We’re trying to truly make this a community event.”
A noontime commemoration ceremony on Patriot Day will follow the bell-ringing at the Legion Hall to honor the victims of the attack, emergency service workers and American military service personnel who have died in the war against terrorism. Abel says: “We must remember those who continue to give their lives fighting for our freedom.”