Dozens of people silently watched the Laramie Fire Department Honor Guard slowly raise the American flag Monday at Laramie City Hall.
Some people saluted, some held their hands over their hearts and others bowed their heads as the smartly dressed firefighters’ deliberate movements hoisted the Star Spangled Banner to the peak of the flag staff, then lowered it back down to half-staff.
“We all remember when the planes hit those towers — where we were, and what we were doing,” LFD Fire Chief Dan Johnson said.
“God bless America and all those that lost lives protecting her that day.”
Once the flag was in place, the honor guard fell back to LFD Fire Station No. 1 followed by Wyoming Army National Guard Lt. John Savery playing “Amazing Grace” on the bag pipes in traditional Scottish attire.
“We formed the honor guard about four years ago,” LFD Honor Guard Cmdr. Mike Nyquist said. “We determined there was a need for it, and I was in the honor guard for a few years when I was in the (U.S.) Air Force.”
While other firefighters at the ceremony wore mourning shrouds over their badges, long-sleeved shirts and ties, the honor guard donned full ceremonial garb — white gloves, patent leather shoes, single-breasted blouse coats and aviator-style dress caps.
“With the honor guard, we’re kind of expected to be perfect — or as close to it as we can get,” Nyquist said, explaining some of the challenges accompanying the foundation of a ceremony unit. “Honor guard is about details.”
As the guard members marched, their shiny, black shoes clacked against the pavement.
“We practice staying in step a lot and the heel taps help us hear when we are out of step,” he said. “We’ll do color guard — that’s where we present the flags — at (University of Wyoming) basketball games. Sometimes we’ll get there early and just march around the wood floor until we’re consistently in step.”
Nyquist said he is often so picky about the way the honor guard members appear, he will check the position of their knuckles as they stand at attention.
“We have a few guys on the honor guard that were prior military, so that definitely helps,” Nyquist said. “But there is definitely a lot of work that goes into starting this type of thing from scratch.”
While the honor guard performs at several functions throughout the year, such as funerals and flag ceremonies, he said this was their fourth 9/11 commemoration.
“This year went much smoother,” Nyquist said. “We’ve got a full eight members now, and the guys have done it enough that they are getting used to the motions.”
Laramie City Councilor Klaus Hanson folded his hands in front of his Navy blue blazer as he watched the flag ceremony unfold.
“They’ve really outdone themselves this year,” Hanson said. “Events like this and Pearl Harbor shook and shaped our nation.
“It is important we remember. We should not hate, but we should not forget.”