Downtown marks Sept. 11 milestone with Heritage Day

Midlothian event brings community together on anniversary of dark chapter in U.S. history

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Midlothian Fire Capt. Robert Altman speaks during a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks at Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

A somber anniversary was observed, but also some communal merriment on Saturday as downtown Midlothian commemorated the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil — and expressed joy in overcoming that horrific event to survive today.

Hundreds came out early to pay tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks during Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

As event organizer Tony Sanders said, “We felt the nation and the state and the city really needs to celebrate still being here 20 years later. We’ve overcome that.”

A flyover by vintage aircraft was part of a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks during Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

Warm but comfortable temperatures greeted thousands of festival-goers at Heritage Day, which began with a tribute by the combined Midlothian police and fire departments to the almost 3,000 victims of the attack, with a giant Old Glory hoisted into the air by the city’s ladder truck.

A tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the 20th anniversary was held during Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

The day ended on a lighter note with the city’s annual National Night Out Kickoff and a street dance headlined by Dave Alexander and the Big Texas Swing Band.

Demetrius "Pastor Mac" McClendon and Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith pay tribute to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks during Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

In between there were lots of happenings, including a free barbecue lunch for those thousands of attendees as well as a downtown market, a classic car show, live entertainment on stage, a petting zoo, and tractor train rides for kids. Food trucks served patrons throughout the afternoon and evening.

Barbecue pit masters prepare a free meal for all attendees at Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

Much like many adult attendees have only seen the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 on film or in books, a lot of participants in Saturday’s event hadn’t been born yet when the tragic event occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. Among those were students from Midlothian ISD, which MISD communications coordinator Sheri Brezeale was happy to celebrate.

Kids get to take a picture with the MHS Panther mascot at Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

“Love seeing our community come together,” she shared. “I got to watch some of my favorite Pantherettes and Belles and MHS & HHS cheerleaders perform for the community. We also heard a fabulous performance by Caroline Cooper. Our kids are talented in MISD!

“Then we visited The MILE booth to learn about the amazing classes available to our kids and picked up a delicious cookie made by our culinary students. I love Midlothian and I love MISD. What a fun morning we have had!”

The pit crew gets the bratwursts ready for smoking at the start of Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday morning. A free barbecue lunch was served to all attendees while it lasted.

Midlothian first responders were on hand for the NNO Kickoff, which sets up the actual National Night Out event that will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Neighborhoods throughout the city will host block parties on that evening to raise community togetherness and increase watchfulness for crime.

The water slide was a popular attraction for the kids at Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

Heritage Day was largely patterned after the event Midlothian held on July 4, 1976 to celebrate the country’s bicentennial while Sanders was mayor. Since then, the city has exploded from a population of 2,322 in the 1970 census to 38,054 in the 2020 head count and is still growing.

A girl checks out the clothing at a vendor's booth during Midlothian's Heritage Day on Saturday.

Heritage Day was organized by the Midlothian Downtown Business Association and was made possible in large part through a grant from the Midlothian Community Development Corporation.

The MDBA hosts several events throughout the year, including the Midlothian Market during the first and third Saturdays of each month from May to October and the Scarecrow Festival each October and November in Heritage Park.

The association also works closely with the city and the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce on other downtown events, including the Wine & Arts Festival, Downtown Trick or Treat, and the Southern Star Christmas Celebration.