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United We Stand

Area residents show their patriotism on 9/11 anniversary

Cyndi Smith of Lisbon, Bill Watkins of Salem and Ryan Smith of Lisbon stand firm with their American flags along State Street near Lincoln in downtown Salem Friday to honor the memory of those who perished during the 9/11 attacks and to honor the heroes. They announced their “United We Stand” event on social media and invited others to join them in the morning and again in the evening. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)

SALEM — A handful of area residents grabbed their flags and gathered in downtown Salem Friday in a show of patriotism and a remembrance of 9/11.

“We’re trying to remember the fallen of Sept. 11, 2001 and the heroes of that day. We’re also supporting our local blue, our police department,” organizer Bill Watkins said.

The Salem resident isn’t shy when it comes to displaying his patriotism and love of country, turning his front yard into a giant American flag every Fourth of July.

This time he joined with Ryan and Cyndi Smith to hold an event called “United We Stand,” spreading the word on social media to encourage others to come downtown with their flags from 9 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Watkins was disappointed with the turnout in the morning and hoped more people would show up later in the day. He said people want to stand and say they’re patriotic, but don’t want to stand in front of anyone and show that.

As they walked, some drivers beeped their horns and gave a wave or two in support of what they were doing. Others appeared to drive by without noticing.

“We need to unite as a country,” he said.

He recalled the day of Sept. 11 as surreal and very quiet after the attacks, remembering the sight of military helicopters and jets flying in formation overhead and then no planes of any kind in the air. United Flight 93 crashed not far from here, in Pennsylvania, and now there’s a memorial to remember those who died on the plane. It’s a place he would like to visit someday to pay his respects.

“The flag we’re standing here holding is the same flag that brought the country together. Unfortunately, it’s the same thing that’s tearing us apart today,” Watkins said.

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