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Community gathers to remember and reflect on 9/11 through an honor walk

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - September 11th impacts all of us in some way. May of us remember exactly where we were when the news broke. Some of us know first responders or survivors of the attacks, or soldiers killed in the War on Terror. Even 15 years later, many of us carry that emotion with us, so Sunday's Honor Walk gave participants a chance to remember what happened, but also cast aside those emotions to continue the healing process.

“Just imagine what it must have been like for those New York City fireman and police officers who in heavy gear and toting life saving equipment, rushed up 60 flights of stairs," says Maj. Gen. Allan Elliott.

A large crowd gathered under the Pathfinder Shuttle at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, to remember and reflect.  “It’s a path we perhaps pray with our feet and we honor the fallen and those who have served us so well," says Zara Renander, one of the event's organizers.

There was no right or wrong way to weave through the chalk-drawn labyrinth; just your way. “It’s for everyone. It is a spiritual and ceremonial reality where in the space can be used to let go and begin to heal as our nation is beginning to let go and beginning to heal," says Rev. Kerry Holder-Joffrion, another organizer.

Leslie Freeman walked in honor of her husband Eric, a Huntsville police officer who was gunned down by a drunk driver in 2007.  “We are their family," says Leslie.  “We proudly but tentatively send each one of them out the door each day. Praying for their safe return." She served as a reminder, not just those on the front lines make sacrifices for God and Country.

“Americans found strength and resolve on that fateful day. Our great melting pot of people put aside their differences," says Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray.

The Oakwood Aeolian Choir provided a heavenly soundtrack, as people old and young, rich and poor, officers and civilians followed the twists and turns of the path.  “You’ll see people with photographs of the fallen in their hands and you’ll see people with rose petals clutched against their heart. Walk it for those who you cannot see," says Rev. Holder-Joffrion.

Participants were given a "burden stone" to represent the weight of grief, guilt, and anger over 9/11. At the center of the labyrinth was an altar. It gave everyone a chance to cast those "burdens" aside; a chance to know that others carry the same weight.  “As tragic as the attacks on the U.S. in 1941 and 2001 were, in the end, they brought out the best in our character," says Maj. Gen. Elliot.

15 years later, perhaps we've learned that time may not heal all wounds, but that through the twists and turns, we can choose to walk through the bright and dark days together.