Grover King Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1115’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony Friday morning offered justice’s solace and the enduring quality of American bravery as the perfect foil to terrorism. Post member Don Dobbins welcomed participants from area police, firemen, first responders and citizens to the ceremony held at Hillsville’s War Memorial.
“We’re here to honor the sacrifice of lives in 2001 by the unprovoked Al-Qaeda attack,” began Dobbins. “This deluded attempt to bring us to our knees with this cowardly act failed. They hurt us but did not defeat us.”
He told the group the plans organizers were brought to justice through military court, delivered by U.S. Navy Seals. Dobbins said he felt everyone knew what they were doing the day the planes struck The Pentagon, The World Trade Center and the subsequent plane crash in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
He said he had been visiting friends in Radford that day only to enter the home and see the second plan hit the Twin Towers. Dobbins recalled seeing first responders running “into the jaws of death.” He said physicians and nurses kept hospitals and clinics open 24 hours following the attack and said this kept more from dying that day.
He said the post and auxiliary wanted first responders, police and firemen to know they are appreciated and called for a moment of silence, followed by a fire truck’s siren. Carolyn Honeycutt sang The National Anthem and America the Beautiful and the VFW honor guard fired a rifle salute during the ceremony.
“It was a day like no other which changed America’s way of life. It was our second day of infamy,” said Dobbins.
He described United Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer, who found out the fate of the other planes that day. Beamer reasoned their jet was to strike Washington, D.C. and after praying and saying “Let’s roll,” he led a passenger revolt, which forced the terrorists to crash short of their target.
“We don’t think of ourselves as heroes. History will determine who is,” said Dobbins. “Circumstances will push you into making a decision and you make that decision in a heartbeat.” He said the attacks had only served to make America more vigilant, prepared and aware.
Sheriff J.B. Gardner’s speech noted lives lost in the attack were from all ages, nations and more than 90 countries. He somberly pointed out deaths related to 9/11 would continue to rise as exposure to materials at ground zero take a toll and the countless people suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the attacks.
“What they did was not justifiable and will never be,” said Gardner. “All the rights we have are what they want to take away from us. Often we take these for granted. We’re blessed in this country with freedom and that is why it is always under attack.”
Gardner said Flight 93 passenger’s courage was even more noteworthy when viewed in the context of when it occurred.
“They did this themselves. There’s not guide. They did it by sheer courage. They lost their lives but how many others did the same.”
He said first responders and Pentagon employees rushed in with no thought to personal safety, “just as first responders do every day across America.” Gardner said this was “what Americans do, they ask what can they do and get up and do it.” He challenged participants to honor the fallen by continuing Patriot Day and the National Day of Service and Remembrance by thanking someone who made a difference in their lives, hugging family members and finding a way to be of service to another person.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.