BY BRANDY TEMPLETON
The Town of Mooresville and the Exchange Club of Mooresville-Lake Norman held its 20th anniversary 9/11 Memorial Walk on Saturday morning.
Gatherers met at Main Street at Iredell Avenue or Main Street and McLelland Avenue for a somber walk that united in front of Richard’s Coffee Shop.
Bells chimed for each time an act of terrorism was committed on September 11, 2001, with many sharing their thoughts about 2001 and 2021. Veterans and first responders from 20 years ago came together with current responders to remember the tragedy that took 2,977 lives.
“God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” resounded as a community shared.
William Nass is now retired from New York Police Department. Following in his father’s footsteps, he wanted to serve his community and was one of the first responders at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and he worked recovery at Ground Zero.
“It’s something God forbid if I had to go back and do it all again, I would,” Nass said. “I think what I did helped. I recovered personal items and body parts for families.”
He’s thankful for the police today but angry they don’t get enough respect. As for veterans, Nass said, “These guys are the cream of the crop.”
Gary Baker is a retired firefighter from Bridgeport, Conn. He lost a friend on 9/11. Like Nass, he acknowledges the sacrifices made and believes our country needs to show more respect for first responders and veterans.
“We need to take care of our veterans better than we are,” Baker said. “We can send a billion dollars to third world countries, but our veterans are homeless.”
Statesville resident Jacob Medlin is afraid that if people forget the events on 9/11 and don’t take action, there could be another terrorist attack.
“It feels like history is about to repeat itself,” he said. “I see a lot of it unfolding again.”
Guest speaker Bob Hogan brought tears and cheers from the crowd. Acknowledging how people can recall exactly where they were that day, he said, “9/11 was our day of infamy. It changed our lives in America forever.”
Hogan was in One World Trade Center North Tower when the planes hit. He said it was like standing at the gates of Hell.
“There were mountains of metal set afire with asphalt melting under our feet,” Hogan said.
Even in the midst of all the death and destruction, he found hope.
“Strangers became friends,” Hogan said. “ It was the worst day we’d ever seen, but it brought out the best in us.”
He closed by asking people to reevaluate themselves and their lives, asking them to make changes and prioritize what really matters— loving others.
“Understand where you are spending time and living your life,” Hogan said. “We need to keep God at the center of our country and lives.”
Like many of the other speakers, he also asked those in attendance to respect heroes from our past and present.
“There’s too much lack of respect for our armed forces, law enforcement, and flag,” he said.
Like Hogan, Iredell County Commissioner Melissa Neader shared that she holds 9/11 close to her heart. She really enjoys talking with veterans and first responders.
“They’re my buddies and biggest supporters,” Neader said.
She would like to talk to them more often, saying that the she’s concerned about how they are treated in today’s political climate.
“I hurt for those who hold us together,” Neader said. “However, I believe in the strength of the American core. I have an abundance of pride and love for our country.”