A 9.11-mile walk and run through North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro Friday morning honored victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
North Wilkesboro-based Window World organized and hosted Team Red, White & Blue’s 9/11 Moving Tribute through the Wilkesboros. Dozens of people ran or walked on all or part of the route, which began with a ceremony at the Window World corporate office parking lot on Shaver Street.
“It’s incredibly important to not only remember the evil (of 9/11) and the attacks that have happened so few times in our history, but also the incredible bravery we saw in response to those attacks,” said Mike Erwin, Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) founder and director, during the ceremony.
“We’ve got to look to and find those sources of inspiration, and I can think of few better than all those examples of valor and bravery we saw that day,” said Erwin.
He also thanked Window World for being Team RWB’s partner in the effort. Erwin served as a U.S. military intelligence officer during three combat tours and earned two Bronze Star medals.
Team RWB is a non-profit that works to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activity. There are about 200,000 members and about 2,000 volunteer leaders in RWB chapters in hundreds of communities nationwide. RWB was founded in 2010.
The 9.11-mile walk and run went from near the former North Wilkesboro Elks Lodge on Finley Avenue to Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, where flag-bearers joined for two laps around the lower campus. It pivoted at WCC and ended at the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons in downtown Wilkesboro.
U.S. and other flags were carried in remembrance of the events and impact of Sept. 11, 2001. Four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists that day after leaving airports in the northeastern U.S. Two of the planes crashed into the World Trade Center complex in New York City and a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth airliner crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers thwarted the hijackers.
Across the nation Friday, thousands of military veterans and supporters carried American flags thousands of miles through their communities as a tribute to the 9/11 victims. Over 25 Window World franchises across the country joined Team Red, White & Blue to host in-person and virtual tributes.
Window World board member Jamie McBride welcomed participants and Tammy Whitworth, Window World chairman and CEO, led the invocation during the ceremony in the Window World parking lot. Window World staff, veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters and others gathered there.
The U.S. flag was unfurled and hoisted by the North Wilkesboro-based VFW Post 1142 Honor Guard. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem was sung by Lacey Shrader, a student at Wilkes Central High School. She later played “Taps” on the bugle and sang “God Bless America.”
Erwin called the 9/11 Tribute in the Wilkesboros the national flagship event.
He also said he was proud and thankful for the support of Window World and its Military Initiative. With the initiative, veterans, active service members and their families are supported through various charitable endeavors.
This includes the Veterans Airlift Command, which offers free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. As a member of that network, Window World’s corporate jet has provided transportation for over 115 missions, transporting 360 people around the country.
Erwin, Whitworth and about 10 others carried U.S. and other flags as they ran or walked from the Elks Lodge down Sixth Street, through downtown North Wilkesboro and across Wilkesboro Boulevard. They turned right down Main Street to Wilkes Community College before heading back to downtown Wilkesboro at the Community Commons.
North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro police escorted the 9/11 Moving Tribute. A North Wilkesboro ladder fire truck displayed a giant U.S. flag at the opening ceremony and a Wilkesboro ladder fire truck did the same near the Wilkes Heritage Museum.
Erwin concluded, “I’m really excited about the source of inspiration that can radiate from this community all throughout the country today as people draw the inspiration that comes from seeing people do simple things on such an important day.”