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Ringing for Remembrance

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On Sept. 11, at 8:46 a.m. — the time when the terrorist attacks began on the World Trade Center — Richmonders are invited to participate in "Richmond Region Remembers Ring of Hope." Following a moment of silence, bells in churches, synagogues and bell towers throughout the region will resound in tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11. This is also supposed to remind people of the nation's renewed sense of patriotism.

For Hager, there's a kindred local focus.

"The September 11 commemoration and ring of hope has two purposes: To remember the victims and to rededicate ourselves to the assurance that their lives were not lost in vain," Hager says. "We want to reassure our citizens there is hope in the future." He is as committed to this, he says, as he is to implementing safety and security throughout the commonwealth.

"One of our big jobs at the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness is to get input from the public," Hager says, about what people are threatened by most. He says most of the questions his four-person office fields are "confidence builders," questions that seek a reassuring response that things — many things — are being done for public safety's sake.

Just last week, Hager says, Virginia made some strides. Gov. Mark Warner agreed to look more closely at 33 areas in which the state aims to step up security and become more prepared — seemingly for anything. For example, last week the state officials began to consider ways to make sure Virginia's waterfronts are secure, says Hager.

For those who want to do their part, Hager suggests volunteering. "We encourage people to get involved with the community at the local level," he says, adding that his office strives to be a "conduit to promote the bonding."

Hager won't be in Richmond on Sept. 11. He'll be attending a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Then he'll visit the Pentagon, in Arlington, "where Virginia was attacked," he says.

Hager's voice is smooth and steadfast. It's as if he's learned the sound of it can be a salve. "Since September 11 the biggest eye-opener for me is that this subject gets bigger every day. Most things fade away when they're over," Hager says. "This just seems to be getting bigger and bigger." — Brandon

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