South Burlington public safety officials and community members came out to remember lives lost 20 years ago during a commemorative event at Overlook Park.

The nearly hour-long event on Saturday featured residents speaking about their experiences on 9/11, and how they have been affected since. Patriotic symbols were front and center, with a performance of “Taps,” fire trucks, flag-bearers and a recitation of the national anthem.

Gary Rounds, a retired member of the South Burlington Fire Department, said the event came together naturally through the years. Rounds retired in 2017 after 47 years as a civil servant, and originally conceived of the Overlook Park 9/11 commemoration.

“We just kind of threw this together and said ‘OK, let’s come here,’” Rounds said. “There wasn’t anything organized and it just kind of snowballed.”

The park, aptly named, has cascading views of the Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Some speakers at the event cried as they recounted watching the hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center on the news.

Rounds said the event is important to him because he notices that people easily come together, for a variety of reasons. He recalled seeing a father and son, who usually are cold to each other, at the event with arms around each other.

“Sometimes you got to stop and reflect, and I think this is a good time to do that,” Rounds said.

The event was called off last year, but Rounds said he went to the park by himself anyway.

“That’s where I’m going to be every 9/11 until I physically can’t do it,” Rounds said. “It makes me feel good to be here.”

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