Remembering Sept. 11, 2001 Community Tributes Mark Solemn Anniversary
By Tom Embrey
A small group of community members joined representatives from local fire departments, first responders and law enforcement officers to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Sept. 11 may be forgotten in some places, but here we have made a commitment that it will never be forgotten," said volunteer Fire Chief Martin Dowd.
Many of the residents who attended the event carried small American flags.
The brief ceremony was held Tuesday morning at the Southern Pines Fire Department. It included short remarks by Hampton Williams, the town's fire chief, and John Letteney, the police chief.
Names were read of eight firefighters and 13 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in the past year. Included in those names was Moore County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Rhyne, who was killed Dec. 8, 2011. Names of the five Southern Pines police officers who have been killed in the line of duty were also read. A bell tolled after each name was read to honor the fallen.
Also during the ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower in 2001.
That day nearly 3,000 people lost their lives after terrorists hijacked four planes. Two of the planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, one was flown into the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., and one went down in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
"No words, no ceremony, no plaques or stones - no amount of tears - will ever replace the loss we felt on Sept. 11, 2001," Williams said. "But what this 9/11 ceremony today can do is to provide you with a solemn way to remember and mourn, to reflect and move on, each in our own way."
Williams spoke of the American spirit and courage and the nation's undying resolve to "carry on with a heavy heart."
"The most fitting memorial we can truly leave the 2,996 innocent lives lost on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, has not been etched in stone here today, but etched in our hearts and in our souls as we continue to move forward in the pursuit of happiness and defense of liberty for all," he said.
Letteney spoke of always remembering the anniversary of the terror attacks, and how he had the honor of visiting the memorial at ground zero in New York and the memorial at the Pentagon, and meeting some of the first responders who where there that day.
Letteney said those first responders spoke of the sadness of the tragic events, but also beamed with pride at how Americans responded.
"To them it wasn't 11 years ago; the memories were as clear as if it happened yesterday," Letteney said.
"Let us keep our focus on the brave Americans: police, firefighters, medics, service men and women, and civilians in many walks of life that fell that day, as well as our military who continue to serve this nation at home and abroad. Be it 11 years, 111 years, or for generations to come."
Assistant Fire Chief Robert Patterson rang the symbolic 5-5-5 tone on the bell outside the town's fire station. The tone is the one originally used to notify the community of a first reponder who died in the line of duty.
Also during the ceremony, several poems were read, as well as the fireman's prayer and the policeman's prayer. Raleigh Fire Department Capt. Lloyd Johnson played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.
Tuesday morning's ceremony at the fire station was one of several events honoring the memory of Sept. 11, 2001.
Later in the day a "Remember 9/11 Freedom Walk" honored those who lost their lives that day and showed appreciation to those who defend and protect the nation. The walks were held at Fry and Prickett Funeral Home, 402 Saunders St., in Carthage, and at 4 p.m. at Kennedy Funeral Home, 241 Middleton St., in Robbins.
Also Tuesday, a brief ceremony was held at Sandhills Community College.
On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Father Robert T. Lawson Council 11103 held a "We Remember 9-11-2001" program at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.
Pinehurst resident Frank Guerra and his wife, Linda, are members of Sacred Heart. His granddaughter, Deora Bodley, was a passenger on Flight 93, one of the four planes hijacked and crashed that day.
One of the more unique tributes happened on Saturday when 11 fitness fanatics and CrossFit afficionados held an impromptu event at the Center for Health and Fitness in Pinehurst.
The eight men and three women completed a Sept. 11, 2001-inspired workout of the day.
For Sara Green, the "random, last minute tribute" was a way for her and others to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the terror attacks as well as their families.
"Sept. 11 was the first tragedy I remember," said Green. "I remember exactly where I was, and every year that day is a reminder of a day of tragedy and loss."
Green was a student at Sandhills Community College. She said she was in a study group when they heard the news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center tower. Then the second plane hit the second tower.
"It didn't matter where we came from, how many friends we had and what we had done that last weekend - we were all watching just as petrified as the other," she said.
Green said she thought the motivation and memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day 11 years ago was extra motivation for those working out Saturday. She hopes to do the workout as a fundraiser next year.
Participant Adam Hinderliter said it was a privilege to be involved in the 9/11 tribute workout honoring the victims and heroes that lost their lives that day.
"To quote an English proverb," he said, "'A hero is a man who was afraid to run away.' Bless all who lost their lives and the families and friends they left behind. We will never forget."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey @thepilot.com.
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