Veterans reflect on 9/11 during Patriot’s Day Ceremony

The Virginia War Memorial hosted its annual Patriot Day ceremony on Monday in honor of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The annual Patriots Day Ceremony was held at the Virginia War Memorial Monday morning to remember the lives lost on September 11th, 2001.

It’s been 22 years since the horrific attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, the attack on the Pentagon and the attempted attack where passengers overtook the man hijacking the plane and crashed it into the ground in Pennsylvania. On Monday, Virginians young, old and in-between remembered that day that shook the nation to its core.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them or feel the impact of what happened on September 11th,” said Clarence Singleton, a Vietnam Marine Veteran and retired New York Firefighter in New York that day.

Singleton had only retired as a New York City firefighter one year before the terror attack. While others ran away from the buildings, he went to the scene to help.

“I went home, donned a pair of boots, civilian boots and a pair of jeans and put a fire department t-shirt on so I could get into the scene, and when I got there, it was like a ghost town,” explained Singleton.

Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard was the keynote speaker at the Patriot Day Ceremony. He was in the U.S. Coast Guard when he was sent to New York to help in search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero.

“From the outskirts of town, darkness rained everywhere, except for the eerie and gut-wrenching glow from ground zero,” Leonard said.

Both men arrived at Ground Zero in different roles and with different life experiences.

“In my opinion, when tragedy strikes at home, it cuts deeper than if you were abroad,” Singleton said.

Both departed with a similar feeling.

“This was not a foreign country. This was New York City, and finding ourselves there in that position was very hard to grasp,” Leonard explained.

Singleton says events like the Patriot Day Ceremony are crucial, never to forget the innocent people who lost their lives.

“It keeps the memory of all who perished in 9/11 alive, so I’m in heaven when I see a lot of people celebrating this event and sticking together,” said Singleton.