A City Remembers the Lost Lives and Heroes of 9/11
By Rebekah Arnold Contributing Writer
With the click of the American fl ag into its base, the Pledge of Allegiance to the fl ag, and the singing of the National Anthem, the solemn crowd gathered in downtown Vidalia refl ected on the event on American soil 19 years ago, on September 11, 2001, that shook our spirits and changed our outlook
upon our world.
cant in the hearts of the American people. This is the number of people who were getting on a fl ight, who were going to work or dropping off school children or taking care of life's errands, and who were fi refi ghters and paramedics arriving on the scene to serve. The horrifi c event took the lives of these people and changed the lives of Americans.
Each year, the City of Vidalia and the Downtown Vidalia Association members remember 9/11 with a ceremony in Meadows Street Park. Under DVA Director Tonya Parker's lead, the Public Works/ESG Department, the Vidalia Fire and Police Departments, the JROTC Thunderbolt Regiment and citizens offer their services for the occasion. This annual ceremony was started in September of 2002.
Captain Carlos Ware, JROTC Senior Army Instructor, introduced Cadet Colonel (C/COL) Jade Kight of Montgomery County High School, who was selected as this year's Thunderbolt Regimen-
The JROTC Thunderbolt Regiment presented the Colors and Cadet Major (C/MAJ) Melody Page led the Pledge. The National Anthem was sung by Kim Ruff and the in- vocation was given
by Vidalia Fire Department (VFD) Capt. Robert Tillman. Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet opened the ceremony by stating that, although this year has presented different challenges than previous years 9/11 ceremonies, "We should never forget, never forget, the importance of today in America's history." Overstreet refl ected that from 19 years ago and ongoing through each year, the number 3,263 remains signifi –
Photos by Rebekah Arnold continued from page
mental Commander. The Thunderbolt Regiment program, with instruction held at the Southeastern Early College and Career
Academy, is composed of four schools: Montgomery, Toombs, Treutlen and Vi – dalia.
Kight was the speaker for the ceremony. She said, "During hard times many people come together to help others like they did on 9/11. Otherwise this world is constantly fighting. Why does something bad have to happen for the world to realize our need for one another and to come to – gether? During this time the community came to – gether to work toward one single goal, which was to be moral support to those who lost loved ones and to help those who may be hurt." Kight shared the story of two Marines who put on their uniforms to go to the World Trade Center disaster site. By doing so, they saved two people.
Kight continued, "They led by example and made a real difference right then and right there. Why not try to fix what we can? Join me in being a positive in – fluence to those who need it most." Kight reminds her cadets to "lead by example, to speak words of encour –
agement and to be the dif – ference this world needs." Many in the crowd joined in with George Holcomb as he sang "I'm Proud to be an American." The memorial wreath was dedicated and the Freedom Bell was rung 19 times, for each year that has passed since 2001, by firefighters Robert Phelps and James Ray.
After Brewton Parker College Assistant Pro – fessor of Music Dr. Matt Haley played TAPS, and the Thunderbolt Regiment retired the colors, Parker spoke: "This year's an niversary feels a little bit
more difficult because so many of the shared values that brought us together as a country after 9/11, a shared commitment to liberty, di – versity, equality, seem to be under attack. We must take time on this September 11 not only to mourn, but to reflect on the lessons we all learned in the wake of that tragedy." The ceremony's observers spoke quietly with each other as they left the park, thinking of the great loss that fueled great selflessness and courage.