Community gathers for 9/11 commemoration

By Heather Michon, correspondent

Almost 70 Fluvannians gathered at the 9/11 Memorial beside the Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire Department building on South Boston Road Tuesday (Sept. 11) to observe the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Richie Constantino, former New York City police detective and current chief of Lake Monticello Fire, served as master of ceremonies during the program, which included remarks from Pastor Joseph Allmond, Sheriff Eric Hess, Fluvanna Fire Chief Mike Brent, and other local officials, along with a 21-gun salute by members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter.


As in 2017, the loss of former Lake Monticello firefighter Dakota Rigsby was a major part of the commemoration. Rigsby, 19, was one of seven sailors killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship in the Sea of Japan on June 17, 2017.

“He was a fine young man taken away from us too soon,” said John Lye, chief of Lake Monticello Water Rescue.

Rigsby’s mother, Shawn Harris-Rigsby, helped unveil a granite pillar for a plaque in the sailor’s honor.

Several speakers drew on memories of post-9/11 unity to highlight the importance of community and cooperation.

“What does it mean to be an American?” asked Sheriff Eric Hess. “To be part of their communities, to be part of their country.”

The first responders of Fluvanna County “are a wide and varied family,” Board of Supervisors chair and volunteer firefighter Mike Sheridan observed, and like any family has moments of conflict. “But come to a fire scene. Come to an accident scene. We work as a team.”

In his closing comments, Constantino asked the audience to remember that the casualties of 9/11 continue to mount.

At least 10,000 first responders have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases stemming from exposure to toxins and contaminants during the attacks and during the long period of clean-up and recovery.

More than 2,000 first responders have died to date, and by next year, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program believe more will have died from toxic exposure than on the day of the attacks.

Photos by Lynn Stayton-Eurell

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