Honor and Remembrance

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, September 12, 2017

AHOSKIE – The crowd gathered outside and looked up, their eyes set on the American flag waving overhead.

Woodmen of the World hosted a 9/11 remembrance ceremony and flagpole dedication at Ahoskie Christian School here early Monday morning. The annual event has been held in various locations around the town since 2002.

“The events of that day changed our lives forever,” said Eleanor Hollowell, a member of the Woodmen organization, as she addressed the crowd made up of a mix of students, teachers, parents, local military, and first responders.

“This ceremony is in remembrance of those who lost their lives, but it’s also in honor of those that serve us every day,” Hollowell continued in her remarks. “It is fitting that we dedicate this flagpole today. Our nation’s flag atop the pole serves as a symbol of the enduring spirit of all Americans.”

She wrapped up her portion of the ceremony with a quote by former President Ronald Reagan from a speech commemorating the anniversary of D-Day, though it still rings true in today’s circumstances as well.

“We will always remember, we will always be proud, we will always be prepared, so we will always be free.”

There was a silent reverence amongst the crowd as members of the Hertford County Firefighters Association Color Guard unfolded the red, white, and blue flag before hoisting it onto the flagpole at half-staff. They saluted, and then everyone in attendance recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Danny Casper, Co-Commander of the Hertford County Firefighters Association Honor Guard, then stepped up to the podium to speak to the crowd.

A total of 2,977 people died in the attacks on that day in 2001, Casper said.

“Of those that died,” Casper continued with statistics, “323 New York firefighters were killed, 23 New York Police, 37 Port Authority Police, eight EMTs and paramedics, 55 military personnel, and one New York fire patrol officer. Since that day, over 1,400 rescue workers who responded to that incident have died.”

Casper then read the Firefighter’s Prayer, a short poem asking God to give first responders strength and protection to continue performing their duty to protect others.

Woodmen of the World Lodge #328 member Sarah Turner distributes miniature American Flags to Ahoskie Christian School students as part of Monday’s event.

A moment of silence was observed afterwards to commemorate all the victims lost on September 11, 2001. The solemn notes of Taps, performed by Rachel O’Neal, resonated as everyone gathered stood still in remembrance.

Hollowell concluded the ceremony by thanking everyone for their attendance and thanking the first responders specifically for all they do in the community each day.

Though the crowd dispersed and went their separate ways, the flag remained overhead as an unforgettable reminder.