Prayers and songs in the D.C. area Tuesday for the lives lost in the terrorist attacks 11 years ago, but for many, Sept. 11 was a day of service.
At the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance emceed by News4 anchor Aaron Gilchrist at Freedom Plaza, the United States Navy Band Brass Quartet played “God Bless America” as volunteers donated service to the community for a year.
“We've wrapped this all around service as a way to show our respect for our veteran community, as well as those who lost their lives in 9/11,” said Patricia Evans of Serve DC.
"We've honored our first responders, as we well should, and I hope we encourage more of our young people to become first responders and frankly also to become teachers," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said.
Gray remembered the D.C. teachers and students flying to a science congress in California that day.
“Hardly did they know, of course, what was awaiting them with the terrorists having taken a plane and then crashed it into the Pentagon,” he said.
As the mayor addressed the audience at the 9/11 commemoration, John Wesley watched from the sidelines. His fiancée Sarah Clark was a D.C. teacher on the flight that crashed into the Pentagon.
"Volunteerism was so important to Sarah, No. 1, and No. 2, volunteerism for me has been so important in my healing process since 9/11," Wesley said.
In addition to the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the U.S. Capitol was a target of terrorism on that tragic day 11 years ago. The hijackers of United Flight 93 intended to crash into the Capitol and might have done so were it not for the bravery of passengers on board. Because of their efforts, the flight crashed in an empty field in Shanksville, Pa., killing all 44 on board.
"In reality this city may be targeted all the time, and our first responders are aware of that -- diligent, well-prepared, well-equipped and they always rise to the occasion, so we want to thank them every chance we get," D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe said.
In Maryland, Prince George's Community College hosted its 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance with poems, music and song. Flags draped a wall with notes of remembrance leaving a living legacy of that day 11 years ago.
Bells rang as The Town of Vienna, Va., and the American Legion held a memorial for those who died in the terrorist attacks. In Rosslyn, flags were flown from the tallest buildings in salute.