Community members gathered Tuesday for a somber ceremony marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States and celebrating the memory of the victims lost at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and in a field near Shanksville, Pa.
Organized by A.T. Still University’s Student Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, the annual Patriot Day Ceremony outside the Adair County Courthouse included the national anthem sung by the ATSU MEDleys, remarks from ATSU students and the presentation of colors and playing of “Taps” by members of VFW Post 2508.
It was 17 years ago that four commercial airplanes were hijacked by members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, ultimately destroying both buildings. One plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon in Washington, while the other crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers - having learned what was happening across the country - fought to retake the plane.
“At the World Trade Center, 2,763 people died. That figure includes 403 firefighters, paramedics and police officers who were trying to complete an evacuation of the buildings,” said Crystal Lafleur, a second-year ATSU student and ensign in the U.S. Navy. “A total of 2,996 people were killed on the attacks of that day, but all of America was affected.”
Second-year ATSU student Josh Wood delivered an invocation, praying that Americans would not forget those who lost and sacrificed their lives that day.
Ashley Maitland, a second-year ATSU student and U.S. Navy ensign, said medical students and health care professionals needed to ask themselves how they would step up in a similar situation, and called upon those in attendance to think about the many who risked their lives while trying to help others on 9/11.
“Our values as Americans consist of being strong, enduring and resilient. It is because of these values we pay our respects for those that were lost, as well as the many heroes that did not think twice before sacrificing themselves to save others,” she said. “We must remember and embody this selflessness in our lives today.”
Mitchell Welte, a VFW Post 2508 member, served two tours in Vietnam as a navigator on a destroyer. He said after the ceremony that days like 9/11 are emotional for all, while he also wished more people would attend the ceremony.
“It’s a good turnout, but it’s not near as big as what I thought it should be. More people should be interested in it,” he said. “If you don’t remember this stuff, it could happen again.”
Marvin G. Flynn, also of VFW Post 2508, shared that sentiment. Flynn served in Vietnam with the U.S. Marines and then for more than two decades with the Army National Guard.
“I don’t think we have enough support. I know a lot of people are working during the day, but with the lives that was lost on 9/11…when they can attend a function like this, I feel that it would be better for the country,” Flynn said. “Every year it seems like it’s a little bit lower (the turnout for the 9/11 event in Kirksville). I know people are working, but the ones not working, I think the respect would be worthwhile.”
Flynn said since 9/11 he feels people have become more aware of what’s happening in their country. He said that’s a good thing.
“We do not need anything like that to happen again,” he said. “If we can prevent it in any way, we need to.”