GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — From dawn until dusk, a steady stream of scouts, first responders and members of the community will salute the American flag at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
It’s called the Community Day of Remembrance. The tradition started in 2002 when a group of Boy Scouts came to pay their respects to the flag one year after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
In the years that followed, the tradition has grown and spread to other members of the community.
“That first group of scouts saluted the flag at the BSA headquarters in Walker, and then were eventually invited here to the Ford museum to do the same the following year,” said Ken Chudy, an Eagle Scout and retired Muskegon fire chief. “There’s more room here. As time went on, we’ve invited more and more members of the community to where it’s become the event it is today.”
The event offers plenty of ways to remember the fallen, including free museum admission, musical performances and a blood drive.
From 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday, local police agencies will demonstrate how they use K9s in their operations.
At 6 p.m., the Salvation Army band will play, and at 7:59 p.m., there will be one final salute.
Now in its 17th year, every active scout involved in the salute were born before 9/11.
Conner Kelly, a 14-year-old boy scout, explains why he believes the tradition is even more important for those who did not live through it.
“It’s really important to do this because there were a lot of people who died trying to save other people,” Kelly said. “That courage must never be forgotten.”
Cub scout Phillip Norton hopes his small gesture can make an impact in the hearts of those missing a loved one today.
“That’s a lot of people who served and died in that tower,” Phillip said. “That’s why it’s important for me to come here so that they can have some peace.”
On the nearby hills of Ah-Nab-Awen Park stands a large box of American flags for passersbys to plant into the hill — one for each of the 2,977 who lost their lives in the attack.
“As a firefighter myself, I could partially understand what those men and women were going through,” Chudy said. “Those who died and those who have died since that day deserve to be remembered and honored. This is one way to do that.”
Events inside the museum will wrap up at 5 p.m. when the museum closes on Wednesday. Activities outside, like the salute, will continue until sunset.