Tree-planting ceremony held in memory of 9/11

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe
Left to right. Dodge City horticulturist Chris Austin, Public Works director Corey Keller, city manager Nick Hernandez and police Chief Drew Francis plant the first of five trees in memory of 9/11 at Wright Park.

People gathered at the Liberty Garden in Wright Park, to witness the planting of five trees in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, a day that 19 years ago took the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans.

Over the course of six years, the Liberty Gardens Committee has been planting trees on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Really, we just want to have a place where people can memorialize 9/11 and reflect back on that terrible day and just give a place to give people peace” said Public Works director Corey Keller.

Dodge City Regional Airport manager Kelli Enlow, who organized the event alongside Keller, said, “One tree donated by Fidelity State Bank, another tree donated by Western Beverage and the other three by Crew Recycling, are planted to represent each plane crash and Operation Enduring Freedom.”

The first four trees were planted at the same time the hijacked planes crashed.

The first tree, donated by Western Beverage Inc., was planted at 7:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT), the same time the first plane, an American Airlines Boeing 767, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

The second tree, donated by Crew Recycling, was planted at 8:03 a.m. CDT, the same time a second Boeing 767, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Ed Longmeyer, a Dodge City local, remembered he was in the pest control business and working at a feedlot in Ingalls at the time of the attacks.

“I was driving around, just looking up and the sky was just empty, no planes and I had no clue yet any of this had happened,” said Longmeyer. “But I just had this feeling that something had happened and so I found out later that day and the reality hit me, I was in disbelief.”

The third tree, donated by Crew Recycling, was planted at 8:45 a.m. CDT, the same time another American Airlines flying over Washington, D.C, crashed into the west side of the Pentagon.

The fourth tree, donated by Fidelity State Bank, was planted at 9:10 a.m. CDT, the same time the California-bound United Flight 93 from Newark International Airport in New Jersey, crashed into a rural field in Pennsylvania.

The hijackers of Flight 93 never struck their intended target, because of the brave sacrifice of passengers who denied this act of evil.

Thomas Burnett Jr, a passenger, told his wife over the phone, “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.”

The fifth tree was planted immediately after the fourth and represents Operation Enduring Freedom, the American-led international effort to eliminate the Taliban influence in Afghanistan and destroy the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The operation started on Oct. 7, 2001, and within two months, the Taliban had been destabilized and removed from power.

On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, a leader of al-Qaeda and the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed by U.S forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The 9/11 Day of Remembrance continued with a memorial service held at the Hoover Pavilion in Wright Park at 6 p.m.

The fifth tree planted is in honor of Operation Enduring Freedom, which began during President George W. Bush's declaration on Oct. 7, 2001, in response to the Sept 11. attacks.