STORY & PHOTOS BY BRANDY TEMPLETON
Landmark Church of God members, Redeemer Christian Academy staff and students, Statesville Fire Department personnel and other community members gathered Monday to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of 9/11. Planned by Chuck and Allison Houchins, the event was held on the front lawn of the church.
Bagpiper Melayne Brennan provided music, and a bell tolled for each of the four airplanes that crashed on September 11, 2001, after being hijacked by terrorists. Memories were shared, and the crowd participated in a responsive reading.
“For my generation, it was a sentinel moment much like Pearl Harbor and when John F. Kennedy was assassinated for others,” Pastor Phil Pearson said.
Nearly 3,000 souls went to bed the night before anticipating 9/11 would be just another day, Pearson said, referencing a reminder from the Book of Matthew that no one is promised tomorrow.
The pastor suggested that everyone devote every day honoring God and remembering the courage, valor, and bravery of those who lost their lives fighting for our country and helping others.
“We also need to focus on patriotism, community, and brotherhood,” he said. “By remembering that we can get back to the same spirit (of unity) we had 22 years ago.”
Statesville Fire Chief Glenn Kurfees shared his memories of the tragic day, recalling that he was a 21-year-old college student at the time.
Kurfees encouraged those in attendance to think about the impact on the survivors of the terror attacks and the mental and physical struggles they have faced.
“They (demonstrated) their heroism beyond measure and saved lives at the cost of their own,” he said. “It didn’t matter who you were— everybody just came together and helped.”
Kurfees closed by urging the community to embrace that same sense of unity.
SFD Captain David Tomlin remembered where he was on 9/11 and the unity and outpouring of kindness he witnessed afterwards.
A year after the terror attacks, a local family brought food and other “goodies” to the fire department to show their appreciation.
“Their son-in-law, Lincoln Quappe, was one of the many firemen killed on 9/11,” Tomlin said.
After the firefighters spoke, Allison Houchins asked all the children born after 9/11 to stand.
“We have our work cut out for us,” she said, stressing the importance of sharing what happened with the next generation.
“9/11 was an event where people had to choose to go on,” she said. “ There is a point in everybody’s life where we get to choose.”
While sharing scripture from John 15:13, she told a story about a firefighter who disobeyed orders and wouldn’t leave the tower after finding an injured person. He sat on the floor besides the person and made sure the person didn’t die alone.
“That was his ‘yes’ moment,” Houchins said. “May our ‘yes’ always be on our lips to impact lives.”