TROY — For the 20th anniversary of the Twin Towers collapsing, Selena Loyd knew she wanted to do something special.
“9/11 kicked off a war that we’re still presently in; I felt a desire and a need to do something about that, to re-educate people because it’s been 20 years,” said Loyd, the executive director of Miami County Veterans Services (MCVS.
While there are several programs put on for veterans throughout the year, Loyd felt that it was important to come up with something to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center that launched the War on Terrorism — a war that has had the United States fighting in Afghanistan, among other countries, since the Sept. 11 attacks. Her goal is to put on a three-day event in September remembering the Sept. 11 attacks, honoring the memory of the lives lost in the attacks and the subsequent war, and educating and re-educating the people of Miami County on the importance of coming together and standing as one.
“It’s not something that we think about but it’s something we must never forget because that made a big difference, and still today it has an impact. We are still in the war. They have not been pulled out,” Loyd said.
Currently, there are programs and activities planned for Friday, Sept. 10, Saturday, Sept. 11 and Sunday, Sept. 12 at the Miami County Fairgrounds. On Friday, Sept. 10, Loyd said they are hoping to hold a dance with live music and prizes given away to attendees dressed as their favorite first responders. On Saturday, Sept. 11, there will be a ‘search and rescue scavenger hunt’ on the fairgrounds with prizes and awards. A parade featuring first responders from around Miami County will follow at noon, ending with a sound-off. Live music will follow in the afternoon, culminating in an evening laser show. On Sunday, Sept. 12, a memorial service will be held featuring a first responder from the 9/11 attacks as the keynote speaker.
“The biggest focus of this is to show unity, that everybody came to the rescue of 9/11. Everybody stepped out. It wasn’t just one gender, one race, one city, one county. It was everybody,” Loyd said. “It shouldn’t take things like that to bring us together, after what we went through last year. With everything going on, it shouldn’t take things like that to unite us.”
Along with three days of programming and activities planned for the event, MCVS has secured the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s “9/11 NEVER FORGET” mobile exhibit for all three days. The exhibit was launched in 2013 and is a tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, including 343 members of the fire department of New York City. It is an 83-foot tractor-trailer that transforms into a 1,100-square-foot exhibit in an effort to further educate people about the events of the Sept. 11 attacks. The exhibit travels around the country year after year, and Loyd said that Miami County is blessed to be able to have it for the weekend of Sept. 11 on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
“We expect a good crowd to come in for this; we just happen to be fortunate enough to get them for 9/11,” Loyd said. “They were going to be with the owner of the program but he decided not to have them with him. We just happened to be blessed enough to get it on the exact day.”
While MCVS continues to plan this event for September with the help of the Miami County Agricultural Society (MCAS), they are in need of volunteers to help set up and tear down the mobile exhibit, as well as volunteers to help in various capacities for the event. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact MCVS at (937) 440-8126 or MCAS at (937) 335-7492. The event will be free and open to the public, pending pandemic restrictions and regulations at the time.