Pat Tillman Award recipient to speak at observance on 9/11; other regional Patriot Day events scheduled

The Freedom Eagle Monument with a 10-foot wingspan soars 20 feet above the ground overlooking the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah, July 17, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

SOUTHERN UTAH — In honor of those killed and injured during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, several agencies around Southern Utah are holding events Tuesday.

Patriot Day, officially known as the National Day of Service and Remembrance, is not a federal holiday but was established in 2012 by President Obama to encourage citizens to volunteer in service to celebrate the legacy and compassion of all lives affected by the events of 9/11.

Each year, citizens are asked to fly the American flag at half-staff, and many communities around the nation have established traditions to mark the day.

Southern Utah Veterans Home

The Southern Utah Veterans Home will observe Patriot Day with an inspirational program focused on recognizing the veteran heroes that make our nation extraordinary.

Pat Tillman Award recipient Israel Del Toro Jr. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah Veterans Home, St. George News

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr. will present a keynote address titled “Stay Strong Finish Strong – The Flames That Made Me Stronger” in the multipurpose room at the veterans home.

In 2005, Del Toro was on a tour in Afghanistan when his Humvee rolled over a buried mine and exploded, according to published reports. More than 80 percent of his body was covered in severe burns, and he lost all of his fingers on his left hand. A year later, Del Toro was not only able to breathe and walk on his own, he also took part in a variety of sports. In 2016, he won a gold medal at the Invictus Games, a sport competition meant for wounded servicemen and women.

Toro was honored with the Pat Tillman Award for Service in 2017.

The Pat Tillman Award is named for the former football player who gave up his NFL career to serve his country as a U.S. Army Ranger. He died in combat in 2004.

Doors will open at 1 p.m. prior to the ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m. Attendees are welcome to come early and learn more about the facility and take a tour of the campus.  

The Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard will post the colors and actress and author Jan Broberg, director of the Center for the Arts at Kayenta, will also be on hand to perform the national anthem during the opening ceremony.

“We work year-round to bring exclusive, unique and impactful speakers to our Patriot Day event, and this year is no exception,” Jennifer Ferrau, admissions director for the veterans home, said in a press release for the event.

“It is important to us to honor and celebrate our dedicated veterans; quality presentations such as this are just one way we can articulate and demonstrate our respect to our residents and military serving at home and across the globe.”

After the presentations, Del Toro will host a reception line with a photo opportunity available for 30 minutes.

“I am very excited about the program this year and the enthusiastic reception it has had. The opportunity to welcome our community to share and commemorate Patriot Day with our guest Mr. Del Toro is truly life changing and humbling,” Ferrau said.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Southern Utah Veterans Home is located at 160 E. 200 North in Ivins. For more information call 435-634-5220.

Dixie State University

Annual balloon launch at Dixie State University to celebrate 9/11. | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

The university’s annual tribute to the Sept. 11 victims, survivors and responders will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday in front of the University Clock Tower on the Dixie State campus.

The ceremony will include a short program of speeches, a musical performance and the release of balloons along with a moment of silence for those whose lives were lost.

“This memorial is a special event to DSUSA Service,” Aspen Fairbanks, the DSU Student Association vice president of service, said in a press release for the event. “We are honored to bring together the university and community to pay respect and remember the fallen individuals of September 11th, 2001.”

The event is free, and community members are encouraged to attend.

To learn more about the Dixie State University Student Association Service branch, click here.

Cedar City Recital Gala

The Orchestra of Southern Utah will host a patriotic gala on Tuesday directed by Marla McMaster. Performances during the evening will include The Beaver Women’s Choir, vocal quartet Blue Moon, a brass quartet with fiddler Ethan Calvasina and The Color Country Winds, according to a press release. Native American dancers will perform as well as the Flute Group from the Paiute Tribe. 

Paiute Tribe Flute Group to perform at Orchestra of Southern Utah recital gala. | Photo courtesy of OSU, St. George News

For 22 years the Orchestra of Southern Utah has hosted a community recital series to showcase local talent. Recitals are held each Tuesday in September at 7:30 p.m. at 2111 N. Main St.

The Color Country Winds, directed by Harry Taylor, will showcase “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “Birdland” and the theme music from the television show “Hawaii Five-o.”    

The suggested donation is $8 for adults and $5 for students. For more information contact the orchestra’s manager Rebekah Hughes at 435-592-6051 or [email protected].

Washington City Elementary ‘Heroes Day’

Teachers and students will put on a fun celebration to recognize citizens who serve other Americans beyond the call of duty as first responders. They are the first support to arrive at an emergency scene and often keep a difficult situation from becoming a tragedy.

Event organizer Kurt Ivie said ‘Heroes Day’ is meant to honor representatives from several public services including police, fire and nearby military agencies. Local government leaders and state officials are expected to attend.

It will be held on the front lawn of the school at 300 N. 300 East in Washington beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Mesquite ceremony

The Exchange Club of Mesquite invites all residents and visitors to a ceremony on the lawn in front of Mesquite City Hall at 6:30 p.m. PDT to pause, remember and reflect on the tragic events from 17 years ago, when approximately 3000 people lost their lives – ordinary people doing ordinary things, and extraordinary people giving their last sacrifice to save as many as they could.

The 40-minute ceremony will be brief, and the words will be few, but the need to join together in remembrance has never been greater. Mesquite Fire and Police departments will be well-represented, providing an opportunity to thank them for all they do and for all they are willing to do, to keep the community safe.

The Exchange Club of Mesquite organizes this remembrance each year as a visible and poignant reminder that our nation survived those attacks, and, although still under attack both here and around the world, we continue to survive and to thrive as we reassert our allegiance to and love for America.

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