An estimated 30,000 people gathered at Civic Center Park Sunday for Colorado Remembers 9/11 on the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11.
The event started with somber remembrance then escalated into a full on party with a performance by headliner John Fogerty, the former frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The nonprofit responsible for the event, Colorado-based Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, orchestrates public events and provides resources to first responders to more efficiently manage emergencies.
“It’s important that we stand unified in our commitment to remember those lost, salute our first responders and service men and women, and honor our country’s spirit of resilience,” the organization wrote on its website.
The afternoon began with a procession of more than 300 police officers, firefighters and members of the military. Following the procession were speeches from local elected officials and a bell ceremony to remember those lives lost in the attacks.
“Sept. 11 was a wakeup call to the nation,” Governor John Hickenlooper said. “We have had so many tragedies this year—Orlando, Brussels, throughout the middle east. As we pay tribute we have a responsibility to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
He was joined by Mayor Michael Hancock, Senator Michael Bennett and Senator Cory Gardner.
Nathan, 34, is a local firefighter who routinely participates in an annual stair climb commemorating 9/11. He chose not to share his last name.
“I think it is super important to have events like this,” he said. “Kids now in high school weren’t alive when it happened. It is pivotal that the people who lived through it preserve the memory.”
“We need to be patriotic everyday,” said Kyle Mestas, 52, who served in the marines during the Gulf War. “We are losing our rights because we aren’t active enough, we need to show the government we care.”
Attendees seemed moved by the ceremony, particularly by the wreckage of the former World Trade Center towers.
As the day progressed, it became clear some people were there for the music.
“I’m here for the music—I’m a big Creedence fan,” said Michael, who did not want to share his last name. “[Sept. 11] happened, there’s nothing we can do. So why look back, unless we can learn.”
By the time Hickenlooper and Hancock reclaimed the stage to introduce the first act, Boulder natives Big Head Todd & the Monsters, a considerable crowd had gathered.
“Music has the power to bring people together in difficult times,” Hancock said. “Who thinks music is the universal language? Especially in light of Sept. 11.”
Fogerty played CCR classics like Proud Mary, Grapevine and Fortunate Son, alongside his son Shane, questioned the IQs of us “mountain people” and then performed “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” to a montage of 9/11 imagery.
His set continued until about 5:40 p.m., after which Civic Center began clearing out.
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