BISMARCK – It was a day that shocked the nation, a day many cannot forget. Tuesday, residents of Bismarck gathered to remember and honor the men and women who died when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.
As veterans gathered for the ceremony, passing out flags and arranging things just so in a small field near the historic train depot, those in the audience took time to remember where they were on 9-11.
“It’s important to remember what happened 11 years ago and what it means to our country,” said Donna Loyd. “We should never forget.”
“It was such a sad thing, such a heart-wrenching thing for our country,” said Shirley Turner.
Both the women were home watching television when the attacks occurred.
“It was my day off,” Loyd said, “and they came on and said the World Trade Center towers were on fire, and the rest is history. I saw the plane go in the second time. It felt like the whole world had stopped.”
The sun was beginning to set as the ceremony began, and for what was not the first time today in St. Francois County, there was a moment of silence for all the fallen, followed by prayers and short speeches.
Joe Snyder served as the keynote speaker.
“Today is Patriot Day,” he said. “And though a somber feeling fills the air on this National Day of Remembrance, we cannot mourn the deaths of the Americans who perished at the hands of terrorists without also celebrating their lives.”
Snyder urged those gathered to hold true to the heroic efforts and sacrifices of that tragic day.
“Fellow patriots, let us vow to recommit ourselves to our families, our communities and to our country. For generations, America has served as a beacon of peace and light to the world. We need to continue to be that source. That is the best way to honor the memory and deeds of Sept. 11.”
Aaron Radford mentioned a pin he was given 11 years ago at not long after the attacks in New York. “All it says is Together we stand,” Radford said. “If we didn’t learn anything else from this tragedy, that is what we need to remember and learn. We need to stand together. When we stand together we can overcome things like these terrible tragedies. We can overcome as long as we stand together as a nation.”
Scott Lewis with the Bismarck Police Department pointed out how many emergency personnel died in the towers trying to save others. “It’s pretty clear what most American emergency personnel stood for,” he said. “It gives us insight into the character of those joining us today. We ask them to protect and serve and to save us, but do we stop to realize that they don’t ask so much of us? Remember those who serve and ask so little in return. Thank you for being here and for not forgetting.”
Mike Barton, representing the clergy, said remembering does honor to those who perished in the twin towers. “There’s something else we need to remember,” he said. “God’s eye is not so dim that he cannot see us. His hand is not so short that he cannot reach the deepest part of us.”
God knows how many tears were shed on 9-11 down to the last teardrop, Barton said, and how many hearts were broken.
“Thank God for a faith He has placed in us to trust Him and to remember that we live in the greatest nation there ever was, and this is still a great nation. There are those who would like to peck away at the rock and chip away at us, but if we stay as one — it’s not about any one religion or any one denomination — it’s about a deep-seated belief in God. I believe in a God that cannot fail and a nation that will not fail if we continue to believe in Him.”
Jason King, Bismarck High School Principal, urged everyone to remember those serving in the military forces. “We need to be especially mindful of the ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We can watch the news and see that increasing daily, but sometimes we don’t pay as much attention to that as we should.”
King remembers thinking at first that his friends were playing a prank on him when they told him about 9-11. He soon found out that the attacks were indeed very real and that it was unfortunately no joke.
“In the aftermath of the attacks, something magical happened,” he added. “It awakened a sense of patriotism, ignited our love for our country. It did more to awaken that than anything else in my lifetime,” he said. “It’s important to keep up that patriotism, that love of country. What would it be like if we had that every day? If we never forgot?”
King recently watched a documentary on 9-11 and was particularly touched by the emergency personnel and their efforts to save others.
“These people are special,” he said, “and we depend upon them every day. Let’s not forget the people who do this in our own city. They are truly a blessing for us and they are doing a great job for us.”
Margaret Snyder offered powerful words as well.
“Let us never forget what happened on September 11, 2001, and let us always remember to say thank you to the first responders for the fire and rescue and the police, to the doctors and nurses and volunteers who helped heal America and say thank you. May God bless you and the United States of America. Thank you very much for coming this evening.”
The ceremony closed with a gunfire salute and the playing of Taps. The memorial ceremony was one of several held in St. Francois County to mark the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.
Renee Jean can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext. 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org