Rose Planting Pays Tribute to 9/11 Victims

Posted September 11, 2009 at 5:16pm

The eighth anniversary of the deadliest attacks in the history of the United States was not just commemorated in somber reflection Friday. For some, the day also represented a time for new beginnings. Friday afternoon, a rose was planted at LaSalle-Backus Education Campus at 501 Riggs Road NE to honor the crew and the passengers of American Airlines Flight 77. The third of the four planes hijacked, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. “I attended the Pentagon memorial service this morning, which was very sad. … This planting is about renewal and hope,— said Debra Burlingame, sister of Flight 77 Capt. Charles “Chic— Burlingame. Backus Middle School, which merged with LaSalle Elementary last year, was one of three Washington, D.C., schools with students on board Flight 77. One student, Asia Cottom, and one teacher, Sarah Clark, died on the flight. Students and teachers from Ketcham Elementary and Leckie Elementary also perished in the flight bound for California, where students were to participate in a project with the National Geographic Society. Before the LaSalle-Backus ceremony, private rose plantings also took place at Ketcham and Leckie. In addition to family members of Flight 77 victims, the pubic ceremony at LaSalle-Backus was also attended by Washington officials and former administrators of Backus Middle School. “Even today, the memory of that day is still there. … Our hearts still go out to those to died that day,— said Gary Washington, who was principal of Backus Middle School at the time of 9/11. The rose planted at the D.C. schools was an original hybrid. The Patriot Dream rose is the sixth of 11 roses named in honor of the victims of 9/11. The nonprofit organization Remember Me Rose Garden hybridized the roses for the occasion, with previous roses including Firefighter, Soaring Spirits, We Salute You, Forty Heroes and The Finest, all of which are available in garden centers. Friday’s planting represented the continued efforts of Sue Casey, the founder of the Remember Me Rose Garden, to create a living memorial to the victims of 9/11. Since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Casey’s idea of giving roses to those affected has become national phenomenon. The rose garden seeks to eventually have commemorative rose gardens in Washington, Shanksville, Pa., and New York City — each with 2,975 roses to represent the number of people lost on 9/11. Casey is partway there. In August, Remember Me Rose Garden — Flight 93 broke ground near Shanksville. Casey is engaged in the lengthy process of trying to gain approval for gardens in Washington and New York. At Friday’s Backus-LaSalle ceremony, Casey spoke about the significance of using the rose. “This is a living tribute to the honor those who died. … Roses are a symbol of love and everyone who died that day was someone who was loved,— she said.