News From Terre Haute, Indiana

9/11: 10th Anniversary Coverage

August 28, 2011

Wabash Valley 9/11 Memorial Event plans being finalized

TERRE HAUTE — On the evening of Sept. 11 — the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — Fairbanks Park will glow with the light of 9,200 tea candles.

Organizer T.J. Coonce, volunteers and members of the public who want to participate, will light the candles, one for each victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as all American service members who have since lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I want them to be honored and remembered,” Coonce said. The candles will be lit from the old amphitheater to the fountain area.

Late last year, Coonce had a vision for a 10-year anniversary tribute, and she has been working on it ever since.

More recently, she has been joined by the city, county and other groups, and the candle-lighting is part of what is now being called the Wabash Valley 9/11 Memorial Event.

It will include a blood drive at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the Indiana Blood Center. The program will begin at 7 p.m. and a planning committee is still working on details for the event, which will include posting of colors, speakers, a balloon launch, 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.” A choir with representatives from several churches will sing.

Speakers will include Mayor Duke Bennett and Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Darrel Zeck, the city’s director of public affairs, said the city, county and other entities are partnering with Coonce “to make sure we’ve got an appropriate event for the entire Wabash Valley.”

Because of the large number of people likely to attend, the police, fire department and first responders will be on hand.

In the event of bad weather, a backup plan calls for a scaled down event in the gym of the former Terre Haute Family Y, now owned by the city.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “affected us all in some manner,” said Coonce, who lives in St. Bernice but is a Terre Haute native.

A year after the attack, she conducted a candlelighting ceremony in her own front yard and everyone in town helped light the tea candles, she said. She wanted to show her children the significance of the day.

Coonce has an uncle and cousin in the military who served overseas and is thankful they returned home safely. As part of the 9/11 Memorial Event, items will be collected for care packages to send to members of the military overseas.

Anyone interested in assisting with the Wabash Valley 9/11 Memorial Event can contact Zeck in the mayor’s office at (812) 244-2320.

Further details about the event will be available as plans are finalized.

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