Commemorate & Remember

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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AHOSKIE – Never forget!

That rallying cry, based upon the horrific images still in the minds of many Americans from Sept. 11, 2001, remains strong and proof of that fact was on full display here Sunday.

A ceremony – “In Honor and Remembrance” was held on the grounds of Mercy Church of Ahoskie where Woodmen Life Chapter 328 dedicated a flag and flagpole.

“We appreciate the efforts of our local Woodmen of the World group. They are a blessing to this church,” said Mercy Church Pastor Ray Faircloth Sr.

In his opening prayer, Faircloth spoke of the church’s new flag, “flying high that we are so proud of, remembering the men and women that have died throughout the ages in the history of this country, to include 9-11.”

Eleanor Hollowell represented Woodmen Life Chapter 328, the local organization that donated the flag and flagpole to Mercy Church. Hollowell spoke of the group’s patriotic spirit, dedicating flags and flagpoles across America in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Miniature American Flags were distributed among those attending Sunday’s 9-11 tribute. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“Today, we also dedicate these flags and poles to those who protect our lives on a daily basis,” Hollowell said, calling out first responders such as firefighters, police, and EMTs as well as members of the military.

She noted the presence of two Ahoskie fire trucks and firefighters in attendance at the event.

“We are ever so thankful for what you do for us,” Hollowell said.

Woodmen Life, as a private entity, is responsible for the donating the highest number of flags and flagpoles across the United States.

“A lot of the flags and poles you see here locally were donated by Woodman Life,” Hollowell noted.

“Twenty-two years ago we experienced horrors that we never thought would occur in this land of freedom and opportunity,” Hollowell remarked. “Thousands of our citizens and those from other countries lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and in Pennsylvania. “But during that time a lot of people came to be heroes. They helped save people, they worked to look for survivors.

“On this, the 22nd anniversary of the attack, we all remember where we were and what we were doing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001,” she added. “The events of that day changed our lives forever, making us realize that freedom is a precious thing and it’s not to be taken lightly.”

In dedicating the flag and pole at Mercy Church, Hollowell stressed that it “serves as a symbol of the spirit of all Americans.”

Hollowell then handed the flag to members of the Hertford County Firefighters Association Honor Guard who carefully unfolded the “red-white-and-blue” and raised it for the first time over the grounds of the church, which opened earlier this year.

Danny Casper, Co-Commander of the Honor Guard, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. He then spoke of the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001 where in New York City alone, eight paramedics, 71 police officers, 343 members of the Fire Department of New York City were among the 2,977 individuals that died as a direct result of the terrorist attacks.

Mercy Church Pastor Ray Faircloth Sr. shows his patriotic spirit at the “In Honor and Remembrance” ceremony. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“It goes much deeper than that,” Casper said. “There’s been almost 1,500 people who died from 9-11 from related airway and digestive disorders while 1,366 have died from related cancers. Due to other health issues such as asthma, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other medical problems, over 15,000 people total have died. And over 7,000 of our military men and women have died since that time in the war against terrorism. They were fighting to protect our freedom.”

He referenced that as of Saturday (Sept. 9) 341 New York firefighters have died of cancer since Sept. 11, 2001.

“There’s a lot of long-term effects from that one day,” Casper stressed.

He asked those in attendance to offer prayer for first responders of today when they go out on calls to save lives.

“We may never see the tears of those men and women, but their pain is just as real,” Casper noted.

In closing, Casper recited the poem: “The Day the Eagle Cried” written by Todd McCumsey.

“We will never forget exactly where we were. We will never forget exactly what we were doing. We could never forget the loss we felt – 9/11/01.

“We saw the birth of amazing heroes. We mourned with the grief of thousands. We marveled at the strength of the human spirit.

“It was the day we held our children more closely. It was the day the American Family was reborn. And the day we became One Nation, Under God.

“We heard those resounding words, “A plane hit the tower. We watched in disbelief as the second tower fell to earth. And we heard the most heroic of words, “Let’s Roll!”

“There were so many lessons that we learned. There are so many memories to be held dear. There was “Old Glory” – still standing to give us hope.

Firemen, Policemen, Clergy and Civilians were taken from us in a few fleeting moments. We saw a flight of angels, and an Eagle cry.

“We became the strongest and most formidable of enemies. The most united in spirit and purpose in decades. We were filled with renewed honor and pride.

“Yes, we lost the very innocence of our being. We lost the complacency of everyday routine, but yet we gained so much more.

“For now we know the true meaning of so many, many words – “Indivisible”, “In God We Trust”, “United We Stand” and the most important of all – “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This than To Lay Down His Life For His Friend.”

Casper then asked for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives on 9-11. In the background, local firefighter Voilstead Kearney played “Taps.”

Faircloth closed out the ceremony with prayer.

“This flagpole represents one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Bless the memory of those who perished on 9-11 and for those who have perished since that time. Protect and touch our firefighters our firefighters, our police officers, our EMTs, our Sheriff, our Highway Patrol. Thank you for this day and this dedication,” he said.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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