City and community leaders and first responders came together Wednesday morning in Sherman to commemorate the loss and sacrifices of September, 11 2001. Landmark Bank held its annual Patriot Day ceremony to honor the memories of those who died in terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania 18 years ago.
“For much of the year, our focus is on enjoying the fruits of other people’s sacrifice and we give no thoughts to their loss — but not today,” said Joe Brown, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. “Today we remember the sacrifices of those who died, those who risked their lives to save others, those who gave their lives to save others.”
It was 18 years ago that members of al-Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist group, launched four attacks on target within the United States using hijacked aircraft. Two of the aircraft were crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center — both of which later collapsed. A third aircraft was crashed into the Pentagon while a fourth aircraft crashed outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania in a failed attack.
Between all of the attacks, nearly 2,996 people we killed with more than 6,000 injured. Of the dead, 412 were emergency workers or first responders at the World Trade Center. The majority of these deaths were firefighters who were responding to the attack.
Wednesday’s event featured performances by the Sherman High School band, Sherman Police Regional Pipe Band and the Sherman Fire-Rescue Drum Band. The commemoration also included a flag raising ceremony where the U.S. flag was dropped to half mast in recognition of those who died.
Brown delivered a keynote speech for the ceremony in which he discussed the sacrifices of “those who put on a uniform to protect our people and property in this country every day.”
“We remember a day of sacrifice that should not be forgotten — our country was built on sacrifice and so few of us are really familiar with what true sacrifice is,” Brown said. “It is one of the blessings of this country that because of the true sacrifice of others we enjoy prosperity, relative security and the freedom that most countries can only hope for.”
Brown can still remember where he was when he learned of the terrorist attacks 18 years ago. He was in the second day of his first trial as Grayson County district attorney when the judge called a break. Brown and other court officials huddled around a television to watch the news of the attacks. The trial was postponed until the next day, and Brown said he spent the rest of the day watching the updates.
“It was just one of those singular days that is burned into your memory,” Brown said. “And, like everything else, as time goes by memory fades. It is just so tragic and so much has happened because of it that we build in things to help us remember.”
One of those reminders is the memories of those who died in service of others, he added.
Hunter Nichols was at the doctor’s office when he heard the news. It was the sacrifice by first responders that led him and likely others to take up the job as a firefighter.
“It is really humbling to come out and be recognized for this and to take a moment to remember what we are thankful for — not only as a first responder, but as a state and country as well,” he said. “I remember exactly where I was on 9/11. With most of the guys here, that was the reason we chose this job. We lost 343 brothers and sisters that day.”
“They all showed up to work just like these guys showed up this morning,” Nichols continued. “They didn’t know what they were getting into. They just sat around drinking coffee around a kitchen table, then as the news dropped, they just say it down and did their job.”