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Centreville Day Celebration is Big Success

Marching bands, firefighters, carnival rides and tours of the Historic District — Saturday's 11th annual Centreville Day had all these things and more.

This year's activities were held in three locations — Old Centreville Crossing Shopping Center, Centreville Fire Station 17 and the Centreville Historic District — and there was truly something for everyone.

The fun began with a parade down Union Mill Road, with participants including Scouts, fire and rescue personnel, unicyclists, a stilt-walker, motorcycle riders, bands from both Centreville and Westfield high schools, a float from Cox Farms, moms pushing babies in strollers, politicians and even Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty (Centreville's Ron and Lois Koch).

Children and teens enjoyed everything from pony rides to a ferris wheel at the shopping center, while others visited the crafts and business booths, munched on tasty treats and enjoyed several styles of music at the showmobile.

In the Historic District, people dressed in period costumes talked about Centreville's past and the Civil War's impact on it. And visitors were able to hear a choir sing at St. John's Episcopal Church and tour the famous Mount Gilead house.

A serious and especially heartfelt part of the day took place at the fire station. Fire Chief Pete Kirby welcomed everyone to a Service of Remembrance for Sept. 11, led by the station chaplain, the Rev. Jerry Foltz.

"Let us remember that those [firefighters] who died [in New York] did not die in vain," he said. "In the face of all that threatens us, great and minor, we need each other. We can choose not to harden our hearts but, instead, love more deeply."

Station 17's Ladies Auxiliary displayed a flag it made as a banner of both hope and remembrance. On it was the date, 9/11, plus the number 344, signifying the number of fire and rescue workers who perished in New York.

It also had a silhouette of a firefighter with a single tear, representing those lost and missing at the World Trade Centers. Red, white and blue lines stood for liberty and freedom; and, said Kirby, "The white background represents the light that must — and will — win out over the darkness we suffered on Sept. 11."

Bells were then rang in a special sequence to honor the fallen firefighters, and then Station 17 President John Phillips read a poem written by Capt. Steven Cochran, of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, about the importance of time while firefighters perform their duties.

Emergency Medical Technician Barb Sniderman read fitting lyrics from a Bruce Springsteen song, and then county Board of Supervisors Chairman Katherine K. "Kate" Hanley (D) spoke.

"There's no better place and time to commemorate [the Sept. 11 tragedies] than here at a fire station, after a parade, during a community day," she said. "[That's] because those attacks were on our way of life, and the fire and rescue workers here today, the families and children, all epitomize that. God Bless America."

Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-10th) also addressed the crowd, speaking of the fragility of life and how important it is to remember faith, friends, family and community. "Evil is real," he said. "God is real. And we thank all those who continue to put their lives on the line." (As if to underscore his point, a fire engine had to leave during the ceremony to answer a call).

Kirby read a poem about the risks of firefighting. "When a man becomes a firefighter, his bravery has already been accomplished," he said. "His is a noble calling ... his job is to save lives." Then, in his own words, he said, "It is our honor and privilege to serve you, and we hope that it makes a difference in your lives in the same way it does in ours."

Lastly, Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) said this ceremony was a perfect opportunity to express the community's gratitude to its fire and rescue workers.

"We don't always take the time to realize all the risks they take on our behalf, every day," he said. "We have the finest in the country, and we are very proud and thankful for the service they provide. We can't explain why things happen, but we move on. We're very proud of Centreville, and today is a day of celebration."