In spite of the 16 years that have since passed, memories of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 remain fresh in many people’s minds. To honor the memories of the police, firefighters and other first responders that died attempting to render aid that day, officials with Landmark Bank celebrated Patriot Day Monday in Sherman.
Since 2002, Patriot Day, held each year on Sept. 11, has been observed as a national day of mourning for the nearly 3,000 people who died during four concurrent attacks in 2001, including two on the World Trade Center and another on the Pentagon. Of the casualties, more than 400 were firefighters or police officers.
Monday’s ceremony featured speeches by local representatives, performances by the Sherman Fire and Police Pipes and Drums and the Sherman High School Band, as well as the raising of an American flag by the Sherman Police Honor Guard.
“We just felt we wanted to be sure that we never forgot what happened that day,” Landmark Bank Regional President Randy Hensarling said Monday. “It is something we should never forget.”
This is the seventh year for the event at Landmark Bank. Hensarling said the event has grown in size each year, with 2017’s ceremony bringing the largest crowd in the event’s history.
Hensarling said the heroics and sacrifice shown by first responders in 2001 exemplified the meaning and gravity of the position and the service given to the community.
“At the same time, they were leaving their own families at home — they were going out to help someone else’s family,” he said.
This sentiment was shared by Kathleen Connor, who was in attendance on behalf of representative John Ratcliffe. Connor said she and her husband, who were both in the U.S. Navy, were stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore at the time of the terrorist attacks. Connor said she watched as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
“As military members, we knew this was not an accident,” she said. “At that moment, our lives changed forever. This was war.”
Following the attacks, Connor said first responders helped protect the two schools on the base. It was later revealed that a threat had been made against the schools, she said.
“You were there for me and my family so we could continue to protect America,” she said.
In addition to the general public, many members of local law enforcement and fire control agencies were in attendance for the event. Grayson County Sheriff Tom Watt said he can still remember sitting in his office that day when someone came in and told him he needed to turn on the television.
“It causes you to think back to that day and recall exactly what you were doing and know that your brothers-in-arms at the Pentagon and New York were going through hell,” he said.
Even 16 years later, Watt said he believes people still hold a special respect for first responders and the potential for ultimate sacrifice they face each day.
“We are told daily how much people appreciate us,” he said. “I do not think it has faded at all over these years.”