Originally Published: September 12, 2013 6:02 a.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Rain did not die down until 20 minutes into an hour-long ceremony Wednesday evening on the 12th anniversary of terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Many of the 300 or more participants sought shelter under umbrellas and canopies on the Civic Center grounds as bagpipes played, a children's choir sang, civic leaders spoke and a pastor led prayers.
The 9/11 Healing Field Ceremony marked the second year in which volunteers placed flags on the grounds containing bios of the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.
A total of 2,996 flags marked the victims of Sept. 11, 2011, said Prescott Valley Councilwoman Mary Mallory, who helped to organize the ceremony. An additional 20 flags honored the Granite Mountain Hotshots of the Prescott Fire Department, 19 of whom perished June 30 while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire.
Mallory acknowledged the rain when she spoke at the podium by saying America has "weathered many storms."
Mallory and other speakers talked about heroism and sacrifices.
Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo noted the tragedy of Sept. 11 and the loss of the 19 hotshots.
"My journey is not over with. There is still a lot to do," Fraijo said, referring to efforts to aid the families of the deceased hotshots.
While few people will make sacrifices such as the hotshots and passengers who overtook the hijackers on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, Secretary of State Ken Bennett urged the audience to be heroes in their ordinary lives.
"Let us be heroes in small ways," said Bennett, who was raised in Prescott.
The speeches and overall ceremony moved Joe Tufano, a retired New York City rescue firefighter who is now a Yavapai County Sheriff's deputy.
"I'm just happy to be here and be part of the New York City Fire Department," he said.