Dove release planned for Sept. 11 memorial service in Landrum

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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By Claire Sachse

More than 100 white doves will fly skyward from the Landrum Fire Station on Sept. 11 as part of an annual memorial service to honor fallen firefighters and others who died in the terrorist attacks in 2001.

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Starting at 1 p.m., this service will also include guest speaker retired FDNY Firefighter Steve Boehm, remarks by Landrum Mayor Bob Briggs, the raising of an American flag by ladder trucks from the Inman and Campobello fire departments, and a tribute video in the Landrum Depot. Light refreshments will be served. The ceremony is open to the public and all emergency personnel.

The release of doves at this ceremony will be conducted by LJ Meyers, a local homing pigeon expert. Meyers is a member of the National White Dove Release Society, whose members donate their time and flocks nationwide on Sept. 11 to fire departments and other organizations that hold services of remembrance as part of the White Wings Over America program. The program aims to have releases in all states and internationally on Sept. 11.

“Birds represent the souls of those who passed,” said Meyers. “The symbolism is that the soul joins with God. The birds flying up is a physical, spiritual and emotional release, the acting out of the promise of eternal life. It’s a release of a burden – that beautiful white bird flying free. People do not forget that.”

According to Meyers, doves are symbols of love, devotion, affection, fidelity, peace, faith and hope, and are a beautiful and powerful addition to a memorial service. Dove releases are like a ministry, he said, and he considers his flock to be like guardian escort angels.

Once released, Meyers’ doves, also known as homing pigeons, will return to their loft about two miles from the fire station. In addition to providing doves for this memorial service, Meyers also releases doves at weddings, funerals and other occasions within a radius of one hundred miles of their loft.