By RICK CURL,
& TOM WOERNER
Of The Record Staff
Many of them were not yet born or were just mere babies when the attacks occurred at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and in a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
But that didn’t stop them from honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks which, as one speaker said, changed the lives of Americans forever.
Overhills Principal Steve Matthews described Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, as a day that threw America headfirst into the ring of international terrorism.
“In your lifetime there’s certain days, so many things happen and there’s no way to remember all of them,” Mr. Matthews said. “But that day was one I’ll never forget.”
Mr. Matthews described the day as beginning like any other. He was then a civics teacher at Triton High School. Part of the day’s activities included watching the morning news as the events unfolded. “At first everyone wondered if it was an accident,” he said. “Shortly after, as we continued to watch the live footage of the event, we quickly found out it wasn’t a random, tragic accident when a second plane slammed into the other tower.”
He described the emotions he and his students felt while watching.
“When we were attacked on American soil, I can remember a fear and a panic that went through the students who were inside our building, but all of our faculty and the parents rushed to school that day to take their children out of school,” Mr. Matthews said. “It was just a tragic day.”
In addition, Mr. Matthews spoke about the swell of patriotism that ensued and how it made the United States even more resolute.
“What I remember most from that time, and what I want you students to take away from this event, is not what happened but the way the United States of America responded that day,” he said. “I will never forget in the days, weeks and months that followed the renewed sense of patriotism that spread throughout the country. I think Americans all across the country responded with a newfound patriotism and love of our country and way of life.”
The ceremony was highlighted by the presentation of a wreath by members of the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps). The cadets gave a saber salute and “Taps” was played to honor those fallen in the attack.
The ceremony concluded with the wreath standing center stage by itself under a spotlight as the Alan Jackson song “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” was played.
Leaders in Dunn and representatives of the General William C. Lee Memorial Commission paused to honor first responders Monday during an annual 9/11 anniversary observance.
First responders were honored with a luncheon during which city and county officials thanked them for putting their lives on the line to protect the community they serve.
Dunn City Manager Steven Neuschafer gave greetings on behalf of the city.
Among those attending was Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats. “It is an honor to take part in this luncheon,” he told The Daily Record. “It’s an honor for me to stand here with all these first responders. … I could not do my job if it was not for these first responders. I am proud of all of them.”
Dunn Police Narcotics Agent Jason Dickinson said it is nice to be honored for the work he does protecting the community.
The luncheon offered a time of fellowship and reflection as the nation remembers the events on this day 16 years ago.
The General William C. Lee Memorial Commission hosted the event, which featured Dr. Daniel Minior as the keynote speaker. He serves as medical director for the Department of Emergency Medicine for Harnett Health.
Dunn-Benson Ford sponsored the luncheon that was catered by White Swan Restaurant.
Angier held the first of two events to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Monday morning. The event, which began almost exactly at the time the first plane hit Tower One at the World Trade Center 16 years earlier, was a breakfast for local law enforcement and first responders.
Among the speakers were town officials and local civic leaders. Several dignitaries, including Mayor Lew Weatherspoon, Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats, several town commissioners and Town Manager Coley Price, were all in attendance.
Angier planned a larger event Monday night featuring firefighters and a walk to commemorate the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Members of the public were invited to join in the walk, which covered a route of more than a mile.
Mayor Weatherspoon said the event was planned to continue despite possible rain from the remnants of Hurricane Irma that were predicted for the area.
Other events, including a memorial walk scheduled in Erwin, were canceled because of the possibility they would be interrupted by Irma’s winds.