LANS picnic honors 9/11

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By Carol A. Clark

A somber ceremony led by Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio Saturday at Overlook Park was filled with memories of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack and the people who lost their lives on that day.
“We all felt vulnerable that day in a way we’ve never felt before and unlike the rest of the population — we get to come to work everyday and we have the ability to do something about it,” Anastasio said.
David Swingle from the laboratory’s veteran’s committee spoke of the cowardly sneak attack in which there was “no warning, no pity and prisoners.”
“There were feelings of disbelief, great loss and a resolve to never let it happen again...a small group of religious fanatics are not going to ruin our American way of life...but we have a lingering problem and that is terrorism,” Swingle said.
Acting Director Terry Hawkins of LANL’s Office of Counterintelligence recalled where he was when the planes flew into the World Trade Center.
“I was in Israel giving a talk on counterterrorism, someone came in and said, ‘Terry, the World Trade Center has collapsed,’” Hawkins said.
A moment of silence was observed by the approximately 3,000 laboratory employees, family members and people from the community who gathered at the event.
LANS’ Picnic at the Park has become an annual tradition since Los Alamos National Security took over the management contract for LANL four years ago.
The first two years it was at Sullivan Field and last year and Saturday at Overlook Park.
This year’s picnic day just happened to fall on the anniversary of 9/11, said co-organizers Tim Martinez from the laboratory’s Community Programs Office and Ed Vigil from the Government Affairs Office. Martinez and Vigil worked on Saturday’s event for the last year with organizing committee chair Camille Lopez.
LANS hired national event planning experts Compass Rose, which partnered with local nonprofits to share in the profits of the day, providing hot dogs and hamburgers, Jolly Jumpers and other family fun activities on LANS’ tab.
Los Alamos fire and police personnel set up their vehicles and interacted with the public, as did LANL’s Emergency Management and Response team.
“This is a way for LANS to show appreciation to all of the employees for their hard work and dedication throughout the year,” Vigil said. “This year because the event fell on 9/11, LANS wanted to also recognize the sacrifices fire and police personnel make on a daily basis and on 9/11.”
LANS awarded Executive Director Cedric Paige of the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos a $1,000 check at the event for its Public Safety Certificate Program.
Senior LANL management was on hand meeting and greeting laboratory employees, their families and members of the community throughout the day.