PHOTO: Reggie Byrum, Pastor at Mercy Temple in Pisgah, beginning the memorial service with a prayer. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor
RAINSVILLE, Ala. — This morning at 8:48 am (Monday, September 11) in the Tom Bevill Enrichment Center in Rainsville, first responders held a memorial service for those that died in the tragic events that occurred 16 years ago today. The timing of the event coincided with the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Members of the Rainsville Police Department, Rainsville Fire Department, DeKalb County Ambulance Service, and the DeKalb Sheriff's Office were in attendance. Many citizens and first responders from neighboring communities also attended.
Pastor Reggie Byrum of Mercy Temple in Pisgah opened the service with a prayer, and was followed by Representative Nathanial Ledbetter. Rainsville Police Chief Kevin Smith and Fire Chief Willimac Wright also addressed the service.
"This attack resulted in the largest loss of life for a single incident for firefighters, police officers, and public safety personnel in the history of emergency services, this consists of 343 firefighters, 71 police officers, and to this date its estimated that over 4000 responders at Ground Zero have died from medically-related illnesses from working the scene that day," said Chief Wright. "Since 9/11, we have lost the same number of military personnel fighting abroad in Afghanistan as we did on 9/11."
"We would like to thank everyone for your attendance today, and remember and honor those who sacrificed their life, health, and so much more, in order to save others and serve this country. To the military and all branches of public safety, to the men and women of law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, and those behind the scenes. 911 dispatchers, support personnel, the families of those who have served and serve today, words can never show how much you mean to our country," he said.
"The calling of those who serve in public safety is a service," explained Wright. "All across this country, men and women put others before self. 9/11 is a reminder, of the ultimate sacrifice and the unknowing danger of every call that is responded to. If not for these with a heart of servitude, the loss of life, property, and prosperity would be unimaginable. So on this day, remember those who gave all on September 11, 2001."
"Because of this date, America and the world saw what America was made of. Men and women ran in knowing their was little chance of coming out. Those that are willing to keep coming and helping others in need; regardless of the costs. And those that are willing to answer the call to serve their country through public safety and military service; knowing the same fate may await them as those that served before them, making the ultimate sacrifice," stated Wright.
"These are American men and women, who will continue to step up and answer the call, no matter what it may be, even if it may be their last. God bless, and thank you for supporting and remembering those who served and sacrificed so much on this day," concluded Wright.
Rainsville Police Chief Kevin Smith also addressed the audience: "Representative Ledbetter said something that a lot of us have always wondered, 'What were we doing on 9/11?'
"I can remember exactly on 9/11 what I was doing; I was asleep. I had worked the night shift the night before, and I got a phone call and I was deployed to the Federal Courthouse in Winchester, Tennessee with my SWAT Team. We were ordered to guard that and I stayed on post for about 16-17 hours give or take, because we didn't know what was going on," said Smith.
"That is something that has burned in my heart and in mind every time I see the videos of the towers being hit, or the towers falling," continued Smith. "It's something that's very passionate to me. A lot of people in this country have forgotten 9/11, and that's why we're going to do this every year. And it's only going to get grander in scale, to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice."
"Not to mention our men and women in the armed forces that went overseas to fight this war on terror. We have veterans in this crowd today who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and I thank you as well," he said.
"To the members of the fire department, the emergency services, the DeKalb Ambulance Service, the police departments, the sheriff departments, we all work together as one cohesive unit to save lives," said Smith.
Chief Smith then gave a brief history of the events on that tragic day. Smith and Wright also read aloud many of the names of firefighters and law enforcement officers who lost their lives on that day.
After playing taps, Smith concluded the ceremony, "This concludes our memorial today, and I hope this helps you remember 9/11. Every time you hear a siren, pray for us. Thank you for coming, and God Bless the United States."