Post 170 to honor troops killed in Kabul attack

American Legion Post 170 in Chesterton is holding a 9/11 memorial program at 10 a.m. that Saturday at the flagpole at Chesterton Cemetery. JAMES WOODS/photo

American Legion Post 170 in Chesterton is holding a 9/11 memorial program at 10 a.m. that Saturday at the flagpole at Chesterton Cemetery. JAMES WOODS/photo

The American Legion Post 170 in Chesterton wanted to find a way to honor the 13 American service members killed by a suicide bomber Aug. 26 at the Kabul Airport.

And in talking about it, the legion’s leadership quickly realized that it would be even better to enlarge such a memorial to remember the 20 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

So at 10 a.m. on the Saturday morning of Sept. 11, they will gather at the flagpole at the Chesterton Cemetery.

Daryl Peterson, commander of American Legion Post 170, said the ceremony will in part resemble those that the legion conducts for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. There will be a 21-gun salute followed by the playing of taps.

But the rest of the program is still in the process of being sketched out. The Chesterton Police and Fire Departments will be there and new Chesterton Police Chief Tim Richardson will speak.

“We want to honor these 13 people who were killed. We also wanted to honor those who participated in the war on terror since Sept. 11 as well,” Peterson said.

It is also hoped that the ceremony is a way to educate and bring the community together, Peterson said.

The idea started on Sunday, Aug. 28 ,when 80-year-old Richard Neal was mowing his four acres in Liberty Township.

Neal said he lowered his American flag to half-staff in front of this home after the 13 servicemen were killed.

“I thought we should do more,” Neal said.

The local legion’s leadership met last week and Neal, who is the post’s adjutant, suggested a memorial ceremony for the 13 fallen servicemen.

Other board members noted how the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 was approaching and how it fell on a Saturday.

Peterson, 41, said that Sept. 11 became a turning point in his life. He had been seriously considering enlistment but that day finalized it for him. He served six years in the U.S. Army Reserve with the 863rd Engineer Battalion in Kankakee, Ill.

One thing that Peterson distinctly remembers from the days after Sept. 11th was how the country was uniquely united.

The country was still recovering from the bitter 2000 election – much like last year’s election – but the divisions temporarily melted away after the terrorist attack, Peterson said.

Peterson said he would like for the community to enjoy a similar kind of unity these days like it was 20 years ago.

It is also important for the people to realize the sacrifices by those made in the military.

“People need to realize what we’re doing, what the military goes through every day,” Peterson said. “The news just doesn’t do it justice.”

Neal, who is a Vietnamera veteran who served stateside, said he is concerned about the country.

“The American people have laid back and let things happen,” Neal said.

What Neal hopes with the ceremony is in a small way, to bring people together.

“I hope it fires them up and makes them think a bit,”

Those wanting more information can call the American Legion Post 170 at 219-926-4577.

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