Coon Rapids' annual 9/11 tradition graced by bald eagle

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Each year Americans nationwide honor the victims and the heroes from September 11, 2001.

In Coon Rapids, Minnesota, it’s become an annual tradition. Each year, the community gathers with flags, heart and soul to honor the lives lost on that tragic day.

"This, I believe, is my fourth or fifth year in a row – I think I’ve lost count on it. But, it’s really near and dear to my heart,” said Jane Cross with the Patriot Guard.

Dan Hanson started it all years ago to bring the community together.

“In 2007 when we started, I was getting the feeling that people were already starting to forget what happened to our country on September 11th,” Hanson said.

But many at the event never forgot.

“I very distinctly remember the day this happened 17 year ago. I walked into work and my receptionist said ‘Janie, someone flew a plane into-’ and I said ‘Oh, it must have been an accident,” Cross said.

For former sailor Ryan Vanderlaan, it was all too real.

“I was a mobilized reservist. So I was called up shortly after the events of 9/11 and reported for duty promptly and was sent overseas,” Vanderlaan said.

But the memory everyone will take home is the one that flew over the flags, when a bald eagle landed on top of Ramsey Aerial Truck 21.

“It was like something sent from heaven. It really was really inspiring to see this eagle come down, and it was kind of like giving us a salute,” said Navy veteran Gary Gliniary. “This is really important to me to be here and I hope there’s generations that will continue to do this when we’re gone.

The Coon Rapids tribute continues until sundown, and everyone is invited to attend. There will be a flag lowering ceremony with active duty military members.