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Warriors for Freedom

Residents gather for a tearful 9-11 memorial ceremony in Great Falls.

As August days went by and the 5-year anniversary of 9-11 drew closer, Bob Pattavina became increasingly worried — however, on Monday morning, Pattavina realized he had worried in vain.

"Last year we had such great attendance, but this year we were concerned that people wouldn't be able to make it since the ceremony was on a Monday morning during work and school," said Pattavina, who is president of Friends of the Great Falls Freedom Memorial.

On Sept. 11, a crowd of about 50 people gathered at the Great Falls Freedom Memorial at 11 a.m. to honor the memory of the six Great Falls residents who died in the 9-11 terrorist attacks, as well as the thousands of other victims. The gray skies and light drizzle were befitting of the somber mood.

"9-11 is a day that will not, could not and should not ever not be remembered for the rest of our lives," said Pattavina.

U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) was the keynote speaker at Monday's memorial ceremony. Young lives in Fort Yukon, Alaska, but resides in Great Falls when Congress is in session. Young praised the symbolic significance of the Great Falls Freedom Memorial rock.

"That rock signifies freedom," said Young. "9-11 was a dastardly attack that was unprovoked, unthought of and unimagined."

Young called the six victims from Great Falls "leaders in the fight for freedom."

"Unbeknownst to them as they left their house that day and kissed their babies good-bye, they were about to become heroes," said Young. "9-11 is something that we should remember because it was the beginning of making sure that we don't have a World War III."

Young said he could recall the days of World War II, and was critical of the initial lack of action against Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.

"Because we did not act, because we did not have the leaders, we lost 27 million people in World War II," said Young.

Young addressed his tearful audience and urged them to be proud of those they lost.

"I respect those that lost their lives, and especially those they left behind, but be proud because they were warriors," said Young.

Patti Jacobina sang "Shenandoah," the National Anthem and "God Bless America" and the Rev. John Morris of Andrews Chapel United Methodist church read the Invocation. Pattavina closed the ceremony by urging everyone to never forget the events that transpired five years ago on that morning.

"9-11 was a more horrendous attack than Pearl Harbor, and it wasn't an attack on the military," said Pattavina. "Standing here... as I look out, I see tears, I see emotion, I see feeling. When I watch the news and hear the media say 'what is this war about?' — well this is what this war on terrorism about."