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Freedom Walk

Ten years ago to the day, young and old gathered in Jamestown to show support and remember an event that impacted millions across the world.

"Two planes, they crashed into two of the tallest buildings," said 7-year-old Karl Ames while taking part in the Patriot Day Freedom Walk.

Ames was just part of the group of people that walked down the streets led by the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper) of the North Dakota National Guard on Sunday.

The soldiers were welcomed outside of the All Vets Club to patriotic songs played by the Drum and Bugle Corps before the eight-block walk to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Betty Anderson walked the route, as she has every year since it started a few years ago, out of respect for her country.

"To respect our country and to hold up our president whether we voted for him or not," Anderson said while holding the stars and stripes.

The last one to finish the route was Carol Humphres, who said Sunday was about remembrance.

"We're by nature not a fighting country," Humphres said. "If we remember all of those things we try harder not to fight unless someone brings us to the brink again."

After the walk, Jim Reuther, chief of the Jamestown Fire Department, said he never thought the 9/11 attacks would impact Jamestown. Then three firefighters were deployed to Iraq with the National Guard.

"Three of our local firefighters changed their boots," Reuther said. "They went from firefighter boots to those of the National Guard."

Reuther addressed a packed room in the Brown Beyer Hall at the All Vets Club and discussed the changes since Sept. 11, 2001.

Before the attacks, emergency response officials rarely worked together and were lucky to get acknowledgement from other departments in passing, he said. Now they train together and communications technologies have improved.

"We've come a long ways in 10 years and I'm so appreciative of that," Reuther said.

The attacks also changed the way the state prepares for emergency events.

"All in all I feel we are better off than we were 10 years ago and that's city, county and state preparedness for a large incident," he said.

At the event Doreen Brophy, chairperson of the Jamestown Patriotic Council, personally thanked the fire and police departments, The Stutsman County Sheriff's Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol, ambulance staff, the Red Cross and Salvation Army, emergency management and emergency dispatchers and the National Guard.

Sgt. Rick Orr, a member of the 817th Engineer Company, was at his third day of basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., when the towers fell.

After the attacks, Orr quickly realized what it meant for the armed forces.

"When that happened on the third day of basic training it put a real spin on what could happen in the military," he said.

Orr said it's important to remember so his 1-year-old son Brevin can understand why his dad was deployed twice and the strength it brought the country afterwards.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

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