Red, White and Blue Rally Remembers, Honors Those Lost On 9/11
Two decades after the 9/11 attacks on American soil, the Twin City community came together Saturday for the Red, White and Blue Rally to honor those lost that day, and to recognize military veterans and first responders who have kept the country safe since then.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Paul Schimpf, a Republican candidate for Illinois governor, spoke his emotions as the ceremony's keynote speaker.
“Words fail me today," he said at the rally held at the Corn Crib in Normal. "There is nothing that I can say to take away the pain and suffering that we felt on that day. Emotions may not be as raw 20 years later, but they are still there.”
Before the event began, people in the stands stood and and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner. Connie Beard, chair of the McLean County Republicans that hosted the anniversary program, began by thanking all the military veterans who were lined up on the baseball diamond — and recalled the tragedy that overwhelmed a nation.
Beard recognized all members in attendance who served, before handing the microphone over to Schimpf. Echoing much of what Beard said, Schimpf was quick to offer his thanks to the first responders and military veterans who were in attendance.
“In the event of 9/11, it is one of the worst days and one of the best days of America in my adult lifetime. The only reason that there have not been more 9/11s is because of the sacrifices that our veterans and our first responders have made to keep us safe,” said Schimpf, a former state senator from southern Illinois.
Schimpf recalled the evil that America witnessed that day, but stressed the nation became stronger and more united after the attacks.
“On 9/12, there were no Republicans, there were no Democrats, there were no conservatives, there were no capitalists, there were no socialists. There were just Americans. We need to remember the unity and the pride we all felt in the aftermath of 9/11,” he said.
After the ceremony, members of the Bloomington-Normal police and fire departments took the field to compete in an all-day softball tourney. The Illinois State University chapter of College Republicans and the VFW Post 454 also were scheduled to play in the four-team tournament.