The twisted rust-colored steel girder reached to the sky holding an American flag 35 feet in the air.
Some Tri-Citians among the hundreds gathered at the foot of the 9/11 Memorial in Kennewick clasped smaller versions of the flag Tuesday evening.
They came to the Southridge Sports and Events Complex to remember a day 11 years ago that started as a normal Tuesday and turned into a tragedy that changed the nation.
They remembered those who died in the attacks and those who served in the military in the wake of the attacks.
And they applauded the police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who respond on a daily basis to the needs of the community.
Kennewick Mayor Steve Young compared Sept. 11, 2001, to Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Both days changed a generation, he said. Pearl Harbor was a day when one nation attacked a military base, and 9/11 was a day when a terrorist group unaffiliated with any one country attacked thousands of innocent people going about their daily business, he said.
It was an attack against the American way of life, Young said. That way of life includes freedom, the right to worship and express opinions, the rewards for hard work and the encouragement of selflessness and generosity.
It's important not to take anything for granted, he said.
"What we can promise is that we will never forget," Young said.
After the ceremony was finished, people walked closer to the steel girder and took pictures in front of the memorial.
Steven Ball of Kennewick said he thought it was appropriate and almost necessary to be part of the community and remember 9/11.
And that remembering is important, said Kathy Wertman of Kennewick.
"We've moved forward, but we have to remember what happened," she said.
That is part of preventing something similar from happening in the future, she said.
She recalled how moving the dedication ceremony of the memorial was a year ago, on the 10th year anniversary of 9/11.
Beams from the twin towers of the World Trade Center were brought to Kennewick for the memorial. The steel piece fell more than 1,000 feet from an upper level of one of the towers 11 years ago.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org