FOUNTAIN — “Never forget, Sept. 11, 2001.”
The phrase, in red and blue letters on a white background is emblazoned on signs with a waving American flag, and it sat in the center of East Main Street in Fountain, directly in front of the Fountain Fire Department.
Each year, since that day, members of the fire department have distributed small American flags to people as they pass by.
“I think Jerry was the one to get it started,” said Shirley Chancellor of her late husband, who was the department’s chief at one time. “This is something that we’ve done ever since.”
She sees it in a variety of ways. In some ways, it’s a reminder for those people who witnessed the events of that morning. In others, it’s a way to teach those who are younger and only have seen the recordings of that day.
“These kids in school, they didn’t really know what this is (about),” Chancellor said.
Chancellor said she often orders the small flags for distributing, and the last order was 500 or so. She bought them two years ago, and some years the fire department distributes more than others.
“It all depends on what day of the week it is,” she said.
No matter what, mid-week or in the case of the 20th anniversary — Saturday — members of the volunteer fire department and even their families come to hand out the flags.
Some years, other items were distributed such as pins, Chancellor said. This year, a magnet was distributed along with the flags. Mason-Oceana 911 began distributing the magnets that, if filled out completely, will have the address, contact information and closest intersections to the property the magnet is located.
First responders are hoping that people who not only live here year-round, but those who rent cabins out or have a second home in the area pick up one of the magnets, fill it out and place it where it can be readily seen.
“You don’t know how many times we’ve had to get directions to a property,” Chancellor said.
Saturday morning, as cars began to drive past the fire department’s station on East Main Street in Fountain, several people happily received their flags, and many wished to donate back to the department.