As the world spent Sept. 11 remembering the events of that day just 17 years ago, individuals in Fredericktown gathered on the court square to hear the story and honor the country's brave first responders.
Pastor Jim Murdock spoke of how when someone stumbles by nature the reaction is to either jump back or reach out and try to help the falling person.
"Those with the strong reaction to leap to the fray are what we call first responders," Murdock said. "They are the men and women who serve our communities as firefighters, as policemen, as EMTs."
Murdock then reminded the crowd of how Sept. 11, 2001 started out just like countless others had with birds chirping, traffic noise echoing through the streets until in that one moment the day changed, the course of history changed and thousands of first responders leapt into action.
"As smoke billowed from the World Trade Center Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., they rushed into danger, not thinking of themselves or their own safety but rushing forward to help those in need," Murdock said. "Those brave men and women sprung into action, because that was their job, that was their duty, that was their calling."
Murdock then spoke of the brave citizens aboard flight 93 in the sky above Pennsylvania who did their part by risking their own lives to spare the lives of the plane's target. He said we will never know how many more lives would have been lost if it were not for the brave passengers on that flight rushing the cockpit and crashing it into a remote field.
"Before the day was over we heard reports of the thousands of lives that had been claimed in these brutal attacks and among them were hundreds of first responders," Murdock said. "Brave men and women who pushed past their own fears and put themselves in danger in service to their communities. Let us never forget their sacrifice."
Murdock then looked at the many firefighters, police officers, EMTs and soldiers that stood before him and said on this beautiful day, seventeen years later, we stand in the presence of representatives of our community's first responders; our city, county and state police, our firemen, our EMTs. He went on to say no one forced them into service, it was a mantle that they chose for themselves.
"It was their sense of duty to the citizens of our city, our county and our state that fueled their desire to serve," Murdock said. "They willingly put themselves at risk for us on a daily basis. When the call comes in, they immediately spring into action to protect and serve."
Murdock said too often these brave men and women are taken for granted but that they choose to be there when the need arises regardless of the personal price.
"From its very founding, men and women chose to risk all they possessed and their very lives themselves for the principals of freedom," Murdock said. "They knew that making a Declaration of Independence marked them, but they bravely took on the mantle because they felt that freedom was worth dying for."
Murdock said the country was founded by those who risked their lives for those they never knew making it a part of the heritage of the nation to lay down one's life to set others free.
"Today we honor the men and women who daily serve our community, our country, our state and our country, at personal risk to themselves, to make this a safer Fredericktown, a safer Missouri, a safer America," Murdock said.
Murdock then led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer and God Bless America.
"There were a lot of lives sacrificed to fight for our freedom," Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon said. "There were a lot of lives lost, innocent lives. They woke up that morning and did not realize that they were not going to go home or they were not going to see their family again and it's just a sad sad day and we have to remember those sacrifices."
McCutcheon said she remembers the moment she found out. She said she had worked the night shift and had received a call from her mom telling her to turn on the TV.
"While we were talking on the phone the second plane crashed into the second tower and it was just... my mom was weeping, she was balling and it was just a sad day," McCutcheon said. "We just need to remember those that gave all to help save others that day that they didn't even know."
Fredericktown Police Chief Eric Hovis said himself and McCutcheon had just finished the police academy together a year prior to the attacks.
"As a new law enforcement officer in 2000 we had only been a cop for about a year at that time so we were brand new babies in law enforcement and to watch the horrific things that happened, there was so much sacrifice that day," Hovis said. "Then out of the bad, the good that came was watching our nation come together as one and stand up. That was awesome."
The events on Sept. 11, 2001 are spoken about and remembered every year, on what is now referred to as Patriots Day, as a way to ensure the lives lost and the sacrifices made that day will never be forgotten.
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at firstname.lastname@example.org