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McLean Remembers and Re-Commits

Fire and Rescue Company 1 Honors the Victims

For its size, Great Falls took quite a blow on Sept. 11, 2001.

Six residents, three of them from the same subdivision, were passengers on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed at the Pentagon.

But McLean was hurt, too. Army Lt. Col. Kip P. Taylor died on the ground in his office at the Pentagon, leaving behind his pregnant wife, Nancy, and young son.

Mark Schurmeier, also of McLean, died at the World Trade Center, leaving his wife and small son, now 5.

McLean has felt the brutality of terrorism before.

Two people were killed outside the CIA and three others wounded when Pakistani Mir Aimal Kasi opened fire on a turn lane on Dolley Madison during the morning rush hour in March, 1993.

Last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a rehearing for Kasi; it upheld his death sentence.

Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has requested that the Fairfax Circuit Court set an execution date for Kasi of Nov. 7, 2002.

An earlier victim of terrorism, Prabhi Kavaler, died when the American Embassy was bombed in Nairobi, Kenya in August, 1998.

There are still no arrests in the murders of a family of three, shot to death in their home in West McLean on May 26,1999, not long after one of them, McLean soccer coach Fred Taima, returned from a business trip to Baghdad that reportedly included a business visit with Saddam Hussein.

Also killed were his wife, Dot, and their son, Leith, 16, a student at McLean High School. The crime has not been solved.

Last week, students at Langley High School held a brief service on Sept. 11 in the memorial garden outside the school.

A trumpeter played “Taps,” as another trumpet, hidden from view, echoed each line.

LATER THAT MORNING, Company 1 of McLean Fire and Rescue and the McLean Volunteer Fire Department commemorated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by holding a “solemn observance” outside the station on Laughlin Avenue.

Across the county, all fire stations and other buildings where workers congregate were holding similar observances, punctuating the exact time of the World Trade Center events with blasts from air horns or ringing bells.

Flags flew at half staff.

In McLean, Father Edward Hathaway, pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church, read the firefighter’s prayer as uniformed personnel formed a straight line and drivers stood beside the station’s vintage firetruck.

State Del. Vincent Callahan, Dranesville District Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn, Volunteer Fire Chiefs Clyde Clark of McLean and Homer Johns of Great Falls and others stood silently as a 9/11 wreath was placed at the base of the flagpole, where a newspaper listing of all the firefighters who died was on display.

A handful of observers gathered up in front of the station, where two fire trucks and an ambulance were pulled out on the concrete apron in front of the station as silence was kept between the times when the two World Trade Center towers fell a year ago: 10:08 a.m. and 10:23 a.m.

Across the street, in the parking lot of the Giant Gourmet, a man holding a large American flag and a small boy stood at attention.

He was there, said Martin Williams, “Just so that no one is forgotten.”

A Volkswagen Beetle painted red, white and blue parked in front of the station, “Let’s Roll” painted on its doors.

THEN A MINI-VAN pulled up and parked on Lowell Avenue as a mother and two children got out to join the observance.

Colleen Canovas explained to her daughter, Isabella, about the silent firefighters, the wreath, the fire engines, and the loud blast on an air horn. They were to honor the firefighters who died, she said.

Isabella Canovas, a kindergartner at Franklin Sherman Elementary School whose father, George, is a volunteer firefighter, asked a characteristic question for her age, 5:

“Why?”

“Because we miss them. We miss them a lot,” her mother answered.

There was a brief silence before Isabella spoke again.

“It’s a very windy day,” she said.

“It’s a sunny day,” said her mother.

“I love you, Mommy,” said Isabella.

“I love you, Sweetie,” said Canovas.

“Why are there fireman that died?” asked Isabella.

“Their job is so important that sometimes, people die,” said her mother.

“They didn’t die,” said Isabella, pointing to the Company 1 firefighters standing at attention. “Daddy didn’t die.”

“Daddy’s very careful,” said her mother.