Monday September 10, 2012

Pittsfield firefighters and other public safety workers will commemorate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Tuesday with a 9 a.m. service at St. Charles Church.

But beyond that quiet remembrance, just a handful of events are scheduled across the county to mark the 11th anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

In contrast, to mark last year's 10th anniversary, nearly a dozen ceremonies were held in the Berkshires.

Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said that going forward, he expects most communities will hold their commemorative gatherings for milestone anniversaries.

"Last year was a major event and because of the 10-year anniversary, I don't want to say most people have petered out, but I think that was a pretty big occasion and I think it's pretty tough to top that," Czerwinski said. "I think we've moved on to milestone years."

In southern Berkshire County, Monument Mountain Regional High School students painted an American flag immediately following the attacks on a hillside outside the school facing Route 7. Last year, students repainted the flag, creating one of the more iconic local remembrances of the attack.

Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon said this year the school will be mindful of the day, but won't hold any schoolwide ceremonies.

"I expect that while we won't be gathering around a flag that students painted, people will be in conversations about [the attacks] all day long," he said. "In classes throughout the district, people will touch base in trying to make sense of the day."

In North Adams, the Mohawk Forest Apartments is holding a special Sept. 11 neighborhood concert at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday. The event features Richard Soaring Owl, a Native American-style flute player, and Two Harts. The concert will be staged on the lawn of the complex, located on Mohawk Forest Boulevard.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said that as time passes, the way people remember Sept. 11 will change.

"Folks have certainly moved on and it will be more of a personal reflection than something more outward and community based," he said.

Czerwinski likened the shift to the way the country remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 so many years later.

"I think eventually we'll see a national holiday like Pearl Harbor Day," he said. "I don't see schools closing and the malls shut down, but I think it's deserving of the thousands that died that day that there should be some kind of continued remembrance by the public.

"To us now, we're thinking about what did 9/11 do to us and why we do need to remember it and what should our kids know and understand about it."

To reach Ned Oliver:
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