The Star-Spangled Banner was waving in all its glory on Thursday evening in Fremont.
In fact, dozens of American flags stood along the traditional Avenue of Flags route as area first responders escorted the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit through town on its first trip to the state of Nebraska.
In preparation for the honor escort, members of the Fremont Avenue of Flags Committee, volunteers, and players from the Fremont Moo, raised casket flags along Military Avenue as a crowd of onlookers gathered to show their support to the first responders and 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit.
“Each and every one of these flags is a casket flag that once draped the casket of a soldier who died in combat from World War I all the way up until today,” Chris Madsen, co-chairman of the Fremont Avenue of Flags, said.
He, along with fellow co-chair of the group Vern Gibson also asked those participating to show their vocal support when the escort passed through.
“Let’s make a lot of noise when they get here,” Madsen said.
As the escort neared, which was evidenced by the sound of police and firetruck sirens, and the boisterous horn on the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit’s 18-wheeler, onlookers young and old stood up from their chairs and lined Military Avenue clapping, hollering, and waving small American flags for all to see.
In its mission to ensure that Americans never forget what occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, established in memory of a fallen 9/11 firefighter, created the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit to vividly bring the events of that day to Americans who are unable to travel to New York City.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation’s mission is to honor the sacrifice of Stephen Siller, who gave his life to save others on September 11, 2001.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors and supports first responders and service members who continue to make the sacrifice life and limb for their communities. For more information about the exhibit and foundation is available at www.tunnel2towers.org.
Free-of-charge tickets will be required to enter the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit during John C. Fremont Days festivities this weekend.
Due to overwhelming community response, and in an effort to cut down the time waiting in line, hourly tickets will be required to enter the exhibit which will be open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 12 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 13.
The tickets are free of charge and will be printed with hourly assigned visit times. The tickets can be picked up at the Information Booth located in the middle of John C. Fremont Park. There are 100 tickets available for each hour, as around 100 people can go through the exhibit in an hour. Final tours begin 15 minutes before closing time.
Tickets will be available beginning at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday following the John C. Fremont Days opening ceremonies at 12:30 p.m.
Individuals can get up to six tickets for their group and can request an approximate tour time. Tours last approximately 20 minutes and include 25 people per tour.
Individuals and groups are asked to arrive at the exhibit 10 minutes before their scheduled tour time.
“We didn’t want to have people standing in line for three or four hours, so with the tickets, we can get people in within an hour,” Tracy Kaiser, JCF Days board member, said. “With the hot weather that is expected we wanted to limit time standing in line and keeping people from enjoying the other things going on at John C. Fremont Days.”
This is the first time the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit has traveled to Nebraska.
The unit features everything from World Trade Center steel and an aluminum façade to audiotapes of firefighters battling the fire. It also includes items like a panel of a firetruck and a golf ball found in the rubble.
The tours, free and open to the public, are conducted by firefighters who were eyewitnesses to history and able to share their perspective on what happened that day and thereafter.
“I don’t think there is an exhibit like it in the nation and I think it will be a great educational tool for those that were not alive during 9/11 and just hearing those firemen’s personal experiences should be unforgettable,” Kaiser said.