CANNON TOWNSHIP — The West Michigan Healing Field commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks opened to the public Friday morning.
Many wept silently and others fought back tears as they watched hundreds of volunteers place the 3,200 American flags on a slope at the Cannonsburg Ski Area.
Among those to become emotional was Rep. Peter MacGregor, R-Cannon Township, who shared his reflections with those gathered at the start of the flag-raising ceremony.
He shared how, in the weeks prior to 9/11, his business had gone up in flames. He described how he felt watching firefighters battle the blaze and how grateful he was for their bravery.
He said when 9/11 occurred, he realized how truly lucky his family had been. What they lost was only possessions, MacGregor said — little compared to the thousands of innocent lives taken from loved ones that fateful day.
Local radio personalities read the names of the victims, each of whom was represented on a flag with a short biography.
The official death toll of 9/11 was 2,977, but there were hundreds of bodies that were never identified. The 223 flags without a name tag will represent those people, organizers said.
Nancy Martin, vice president of the United Bank in Rockford and a member of the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE), participated in the flag-raising ceremony.
Correspondent Cory Smith
contributed to this report.