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WILSON, N.C. – The stately colors of the United States stood at half-staff across America on Friday in remembrance of the horror of September 11, 2001. With flames and destruction, that terrible Tuesday roared to the world the hideous reality of human depravity; but, like a crucible, that day also revealed the golden gleam of heroism, as the world witnessed America’s first responders jeopardizing their own safety to save others. To honor Wilson’s first responders and show gratitude for their continual service to the Wilson community, Barton College’s Volunteer Services Organization held a ceremony of remembrance this September 11 at noon by the Hamlin Student Center fountain.
As the College remembered the events of eight years ago, her flags flew at half-staff to honor the dead. Several times throughout the morning, the Alumni Bell Tower pealed to signify the moment of each plane crash and each collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
At noon, an honor guard from the Wilson Police Department presented the national and state colors as the crowd, which had gathered around the Hamlin Student Center fountain, looked on. A third member of the honor guard, leading a contingent of first responders, placed a memorial wreath by the lectern in front of the Student Center. Then, they saluted the flag; and senior mass communications major Drew Johnson sang the national anthem.
Kellie Lewis, a junior English major, and Brittnee Parker, a sophomore majoring in the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, welcomed those assembled and introduced the program. Each took turns recounting the key moments of the morning of September 11:
“8:46 a.m. – Flight 11 hits the first World Trade Center.”
“9:03 a.m. – Flight 175 hits the second World Trade Center.”
“9:30 a.m. – Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.”
“9:59 a.m. – The second World Trade Center collapses.”
“10:03 a.m. – Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania.”
“10:28 a.m. – The first World Trade Center collapses.”
The assembly then paused for a solemn moment of silence.
Student Government Association President Will Cobb, a senior religion and philosophy major, shared the sentiments of a popular email written from the perspective of God as He stood with the dying on the planes and in the World Trade Center.
Cobb then spoke of first responders, honoring those who worked so selflessly eight years ago and those who do so today.
“I would imagine that those who rushed to the scene first in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania would not want to be recognized,” said Cobb. “They would say that they were just doing their jobs; but today we recognize and acknowledge those unsung heroes from New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, and all the first responders in this country, especially here in the city of Wilson, North Carolina.
“Thank you for, not only what you do today, but everyday of our lives, to protect us here at Barton College and around the great city of Wilson, North Carolina.
“May God bless you, and may God bless this country, the United States of America!”
Cobb led those assembled in a round of applause for Wilson’s first responders and then presented the first responders with posters signed by the Barton College community in appreciation “for all the work you do to serve the Wilson community and our country.”
Concluding the ceremony, Lewis said that “remembrance ribbons” had been sold earlier in the week to raise money for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and for a “foundation for families and children who lost loved ones in the September 11 tragedy.” She then invited the first responders to lunch in the dining hall of the Hamlin Student Center.
Each day we take our freedom and safety for granted. Let us always be thankful for those who fight to protect us and for those who rush to our aid. And, may we, in the words of our national anthem, “Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!”
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