Beautiful Peace Arch ceremony marks 9/11 terror attacks (PHOTOS)

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Image: U.S. Consulate of Vancouver

First responders from the B.C. Lower Mainland and Washington State memorialized the victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in a beautiful ceremony held at the Peace Arch border crossing, between Surrey, B.C. and Blaine, Washington State.

From the north, the proceedings began with a memorial ride escorted by the Vancouver Police Motorcycle Drill Team beginning at River Rock Casino in Richmond. A similar procession happened in the south along Interstate 5 in Whatcom County.

At 9 a.m., a 45-minute memorial ceremony began at the border crossing’s park, right by the Peace Arch. Large Canadian and American flags were hoisted by erected fire truck ladders to visibly mark the occasion as vehicles crossed the border.

Emergency services personnel from both countries participated in the ceremony, including police, fire, ambulance, paramedic, ERT, border and customs staff. In addition, six honoured first responders were flown up from New York City to participate in the event.

A total of 2,977 people, excluding the terrorists, were killed in the attacks that began at 8:46 a.m. that fateful day. Among the fatalities were 26 Canadians. As well, over 6,000 people were also injured, with many still suffering from severe illnesses and conditions directly related to the attacks.

In the hours that followed, approximately 239 U.S. flights carrying 33,000 passengers were diverted to 17 Canadian airports after a joint decision was made to ground all air traffic over Canadian and American airspace.

This includes 34 U.S. flights with 8,500 passengers at Vancouver International Airport, 38 U.S. flights with over 6,000 passengers at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, and 40 U.S. flights with 7,300 passengers at Halifax International Airport. A Korean Air Boeing 747 was even forced to land at the airstrip in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Dubbed “Operation Yellow Ribbon,” tens of thousands of stranded passengers and flight crews were housed and fed at Canadian airports, gymnasiums, community centres, hotels and even the homes of citizens.

In Vancouver, which was the emergency landing site for almost all U.S. flights over the Pacific, there was a massive outreach from both the public and corporate community to assist those who were stranded at YVR Airport.

 

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