Despite the looming threat of a major disaster off the North Carolina coast, citizens took time out Tuesday to remember the terrorist attacks that changed American history 17 years ago.
Dunn once again held its First Responder Appreciation Luncheon at the Dunn Community building. Mark Johnson has organized the event since its inception in 2002, a year after terrorist shook the country with a series of attacks involving hijacked commerical airlines.
“I think it was a good event,” Mr. Johnson said.
Law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency responders were all on hand. Sheriff Wayne Coats was the speaker at this year’s event. He personally thanked all those on hand.
“We are here to honor all our first responders,” Sheriff Coats said. “We appreciate what they all do for us, 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year.”
The sheriff outlined specific details about the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He said he had a purpose in what he was doing.
“I don’t ever want us to ever forget that day,” Sheriff Coats said. “There were four flights that day that changed our lives forever.”
In addition to first responders, the sheriff mentioned public works staff members on hand, noting they will be serving the community in the coming days as Hurricane Florence approaches.
“These men and women are not appreciated enough for what they do for all of us,” Sheriff Coats said. “They are part of our team. Harnett County is all about working together, that is how we get things done.”
Dunn Mayor Oscar Harris also spoke at the luncheon.
“We can’t let this fade, this needs to stay on people’s minds,” Mayor Harris said.
The event Tuesday was sponsored by Dunn-Benson Ford. Volunteers from Gospel Tabernacle prepared and served the meals.
Several schools also hosted events marking the Sept. 11 anniversary. Overhills High School, one of the schools with the highest concentration of students with military ties, once again held a traditional ceremony near the flagpole prior to the beginning of classes.
Cadet Maj. Bailey Neal spoke to the crowd.
“Sept. 11 helped make us stronger and it made us braver,” Bailey said. “Every year we will remember those who lost their lives that day.”
Overhills Principal Chris Pearson also spoke at the event. He encouraged students to talk to those who remember the events of Sept. 11.
“You should talk to those who remember that day,” Mr. Pearson said. “They can tell you about a turning point in the history of our country.”
Other schools also held events related to Sept. 11. Anderson Creek Academy, a charter school near Anderson Creek Club on Ray Road, also held a ceremony. Lafayette Elementary School held an event Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the event.