GROTON — Groton-Dunstable students building the biggest book in the world welcome the return of New York 9/11 first-responders to Groton from Sept. 10 – 12 for a busy weekend of activities in Groton and Dunstable.
Special ceremonies are being planned during Groton’s annual fireworks display Sept. 10 and will conclude with a community breakfast Sunday, Sept. 12 at the Olde Groton Inn.
The New York-based first-responders, representing the FealGood Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the many injured and ill 9/11 first-responders and their families, first visited Groton earlier this year and they vowed to return to mark Sept. 11 with the citizens of their “newly adopted” hometown.
These heroes first learned of Groton when the Groton-Dunstable middle- and high-school students, who are members of the Bookmakers and Dreamers after-school club, toured ground zero last September during a trip to New York City to attend the World Youth Congress at the United Nations in honor of International Day of Peace.
During a tour of the site of the former World Trade Center that was destroyed during the terrorist attacks, the students met a retired New York City fireman who was at ground zero that day, who referred them to the FealGood Foundation’s President, John Feal.
Student adviser and teacher Betsy Sawyer contacted Feal and asked if he would write a letter to be included in the biggest book in the world about peace. Feal promised that not only would he write, but would personally deliver 100 letters from other first-responders to the students in Groton to include in their giant book.
Feal, joined by additional first-responders including New York City police, fire and construction workers, made good on their promise and delivered those letters last April. They were so moved by the outpouring of support from Groton, Dunstable and surrounding communities that they vowed to return for Grotonfest on Sept. 11, where they could mark the day in a special, uplifting way. Some are bringing their families so they too can appreciate the support the community provided to these real-life heroes. The Feal Good Foundation will also present a high-school member of the Bookmakers and Dreamers club with a $1000 scholarship.
The Pages for Peace Project was initiated in 2004 when a group of fifth-grade students joined an after-school club whose purpose was to build the biggest book in the world. Following months of research, the students decided that in order to break the Guinness World Book of Records entry for largest book, their tome had to be 10 feet wide by 12 feet. high, contain 500-double sided pages and weigh a ton. They felt such a big book deserved an important topic and agreed to focus on peace. Since that time they have received letters from people all over the world, including Nobel Laureates President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, and Helen Caldecott, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry and celebrities such as folk singer Pete Seeger and skateboarder Tony Hawk. Students have been invited to the UN in 2008 and 2009 and again in Sept. of 2010 to tell the story of their project as part of the UN’s annual celebration of the International Day of Peace.
The FealGood Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocacy for the thousands of 9/11 first-responders who are ill and injured. Founder and President of the Foundation, John Feal, and member of the foundation, lobby Congress on behalf of their fellow first-responders for legislation to provide adequate health benefits and financial support for responders and their families. Hundreds of these heroes have died as a result of their injuries or illnesses sustained during their rescue/recovery efforts at the site of the former World Trade Center Towers. Feal has been regularly featured on national newscasts as a spokesman for the rights of these men and women as Congress continues to debate the legislation.
Following their visit to Groton, they will head to Washington, D.C., for a rally at the Capitol Building on Sept. 15, followed by lobbying Congress on bill HR 847, the James Zadroga Health & Compensation Act.
For additional information about the “Big Book: Pages for Peace” project or to contribute a letter to the book visit www.pagesforpeace.org and become a fan on Facebook @ Big Book: Pages for Peace Foundation.
For more information about the FealGood Foundation, visit www.fealgoodfoundation.com.
Schedule for 9/11 first-responders’ return to Groton-Dunstable
Friday, Sept. 10:
5 p.m. — Arrive (with fire department escort) at Olde Groton Inn, Main Street
5-7p.m. — The John Niemoller Band, Gazebo, Town Field
6 p.m. — Coin toss, Groton-Dunstable football game, Regional High School, Chicopee Row
7 p.m. — Town Field fireworks celebration. Ringing of the memorial bell (Fire chief Joe Boselait — basketball court)
7:05 p.m. Big Book: Pages for Peace Project Adviser Betsy Sawyer and students welcome 9/11 first-responders back to Groton)
7:10 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. Nashoba Valley Concert Band (patriotic selections including the 1812 Overture)
8:30 p.m. — Fireworks
Saturday, Sept. 11:
8:46 a.m. — Ceremony at the Hanson Family Sept. 11 Memorial at Town Field (time of ceremony coincides with the time that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The steeple bell at First Parish Church will ring for one minute.
9:06 a.m. — First Parish Church bell will ring again to mark the conclusion of the ceremony and in memoriam of United Flight 175, that hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
10 a.m. — Grotonfest begins, Legion Common. Visit the Big Book: Pages for Peace Project booth together with the FealGood Foundation booth 46 (at the junction of School, Champney and Legion Common). Donate a toy for the first-responders’ children’s toy drive.
2 p.m. — Special ceremony to recognize first-responders from New York and all local first-responders.
2:30 p.m. — Presentation of scholarship to a high-school member of the Bookmakers and Dreamers by FealGood Foundation President John Feal and Superintendent of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District Joseph Mastrocola.
6-8 p.m. Dunstable Fire House annual pizza night welcomes first-responders.
Sunday, Sept. 12:
8-11 a.m. – Community breakfast with first-responders, $10 per person at the Old Groton Inn.