Winston-Salem, Forsyth County taking different approach to 9/11 commemoration

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- This year, the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County is taking a different approach to their 9/11 commemoration.

In years past, the ceremonies have been more somber; focusing on the past. This year, they're looking towards the future.

"It's going to be pretty competitive. We're going to go out there and try our best," said Mark Townsend, an East Forsyth High School senior and JROTC cadet.

Townsend, along with his fellow cadets at East Forsyth, will be competing against the JROTC cadets from the nine other high schools in Forsyth County. City officials are calling it a "field day" of sorts, where the cadets will compete in drills, an obstacle course and even marksmanship.

"When we had the opportunity to say we can reinvent what we do for 9/11, it matched, a and we said OK let's do it together," said Ed McNeal with the city of Winston-Salem.

The purpose of the event is not only to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11, but also to encourage the cadets to pursue careers in the fields and departments which first responded to the attack; whether it be the military, law enforcement or firefighting and EMS.

"A lot of great men and women were lost that day and it had a big impact on the United States and our country as a whole and it had a big impact on me," Townsend said.

The event is funded by the law enforcement and first responder organizations in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

"So that when that call goes out -- God forbid we ever have another situation like 9/11 -- but should we, we need men and women that are willing to go in there and rescue the rest of us," McNeal said.

The event will take place on Sept. 12, inside the annex at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.