Resilience and unity of September 12th inspires annual 9/11 walk
SOUTH BEND, Ind.,-- September 11th was a day many Americans will never forget, but it was the day that followed that showed the resiliency and unity of the nation. That feeling on September 12th inspired march organizer, Bob Lyons, to march to the St. Joseph County 9/11 memorial each year. Lyons addressed the crowd in the Martin’s Super Market parking lot before heading out on the 21-mile trek.
“You will experience throughout the distance, some pain and discomfort, but I always think of the first responders that day and what they went through,” said Lyons. “They had to climb 80 flights of stairs just to get to people, carry all their gear.”
March organizer Bob Lyons--among others--set on to march 21 miles on September 11th to honor the lives lost, the survivors and the first responders on the day many Americans will never forget. Lyons says the 21 miles is a “walking 21-gun salute to those we lost and to the heroes of 9/11.”
Lyons was in the New York City area during the attacks and is driven to spend each Remembrance Day marching on. He has participated in 21-mile marches every September 11th since 2009.
It began in his hometown of St. Louis with a March to the Arch. He later moved to Des Moines and brought the march with him. Once he moved to South Bend in 2018, he kept marching on.
People of all ages joined Lyons, including a Niles-area veteran Kent Laudeman, who felt connected to the first responders and their service on that day and wanted to honor them.
“This really draws together military members, first responder, etcetera. And makes it a special kind of day that needs to be remembered,” said Laudeman. “First responders, just as big as the military, they followed in afterwards.”
Laudeman was working at the US Military Academy at the time. He had cadets with parents working at the Pentagon who were directly impacted.
Along the route, many stories were told. The event started marching on at 9:11 am and wrapped up at the 9-11 memorial at St. Patrick’s County Park after eight hours of walking.
Some marched the full 21-mile route, others showed their support throughout different stops, with an American flag in hand. Lyons was among those that traveled the full 21 miles. This year, at the memorial marchers heard from another local, Cindy Laney, who was in Manhattan that day --and was touched to see the community support.
“I’m just incredibly grateful of course to have lived through it, to be able to tell the story, but I feel charged to talk about it to help people feel more connected to an event that in many cases happened before they were born. And for those who can remember where they were on 9/11, to help them to reflect.”
Since bringing the march to South Bend, Lyons’ goal is to grow the march to become “100-flags-strong” in five years. Each year, he plans the route with various stops around fire stations and will continue marching on as he says he can't return to a regular work day on the anniversary of the attacks.