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story.lead_photo.caption Texarkana, Arkansas, Fire Department's Honor Guard members ring the Honor Bell during a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial for first responders Wednesday at the Downtown Post Office and Federal Courthouse in Texarkana. The bell was rung in three sets of five chimes, signaling "stand down" in honor of the fallen firefighters. The community came together at the courthouse for a moment of silence on the day 18 years ago when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

Eighteen years after enemies of America struck her cities using civilian aircraft, citizens of towns across the fruited plains have not forgotten the lives lost on that day.

Those were lives of people in the wrong place at the wrong time, as well as those who stood in the gap to save lives. Texarkana's first responders saluted that kinship Wednesday morning.

"You never know when our first responders will be needed," said Texarkana, Arkansas, Mayor Allen Brown. "In fact, one of our fire trucks had to leave the ceremony to respond to a call."

Texarkana, Arkansas, Mayor Allen Brown speaks to the crowd about the duties and sacrifices all first responders make everyday during a 9/11 Memorial for first responders Wednesday at the front of the Downtown Post Office and Federal Courthouse in Texarkana. "Hundreds of first responders in New York lost their lives that day. We were all asking the question, 'Was there more to come?' But I saw our first responders and our citizens focus less on the terror, more on our first responders and the gratitude of our citizens for the angels among us. We turned to faith to help get us through this. We gave selflessly."
Photo by Hunt Mercier/Texarkana Gazette.

Brown was acknowledging the fact that, minutes before Wednesday's 9/11 memorial ceremony was to begin, one of the fire trucks from among the gathered emergency vehicles present revved its engine, let loose with the siren and lights and sped off, summoned to people in need.

People were certainly in need on Sept. 1, 2001, as well.

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"That morning, watching it on the news, there was the hope, the thought, that this can't be real. But it became clear there was no doubt we were under attack," Brown recalled.

"Hundreds of first responders in New York lost their lives that day. We were all asking the question, 'Was there more to come?' But I saw our first responders and our citizens focus less on the terror, more on our first responders and the gratitude of our citizens for the angels among us. We turned to faith to help get us through this. We gave selflessly."

Texarkana, Texas, Mayor Bob Bruggeman speaks to the crowd Wednesday about the moment when the airplanes struck the World Trade Center during a 9/11 Memorial for first responders in downtown Texarkana.
Photo by Hunt Mercier/Texarkana Gazette.

Texarkana, Texas, Mayor Bob Bruggeman quoted Texas Sen. John Cornyn, "We must always embrace what makes America great. All Americans stood strong. We thank our first responders, our military remember those we lost."

He noted the disheartening footage that has come out of New York City recently, of NYC police being disrespected, harassed and assaulted in the streets in communities they serve.

And then he mentioned the Flight 93 plane that crashed in Pennsylvania and the sacrifice of those who wrested control of the plane from the hijackers, causing it to fall short of its target.

"We thank our police officers, paramedics, firefighters, caregivers may God bless Texarkana USA," Bruggeman said.

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Craig Jenkins, pastor of Beech Street First Baptist Church, told the story of Welles Remy Crowther, known as the Man with the Red Bandana.

He talked about how Crowther, an equities trader working 100 stories up in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, had responded to the building being struck by descending to the 78th floor.

There, he found wounded and frightened people. Rather than seeking safety for himself, he summoned up his training and experience as a volunteer firefighter and went to the aid of people, joining the teams of NYC firefighters tending to to their jobs.

He was in the building when the South Tower collapsed. He later was found dead in the rubble with the firefighters he had joined, still wearing the red bandana.

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As a result of his efforts, many lives were saved. And rather than save himself, he stayed with the firefighters of the FDNY and kept working to the last, saving as many as 18 people before the end came.

Before he began this task, he called his mother from the office to let her know he was OK.

"He was made an honorary NYC firefighter in 2006," Jenkins said.

There was a moment of silence, then local firefighters in their dress uniforms rendered honors, while a bell was sounded in three sets of five chimes, signaling "stand down."

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