By Bree Collar, Sentinel Staff Writer
As the bell tolled last Saturday afternoon in remembrance of all those who fell 18 years ago at the World Trade Center Towers giving aid to the injured, the silence was deafening. The 11th Annual Regional 9/11 Awake America Prayer and Memorial Service sent a message of “I believe” to those attending the memorial Sept 7 at the Fannin County Performing Arts Center.
Chris Brewer from McCaysville, firefighter in Asheville, N.C., said when the nation was under attack Sept. 11, 2001 it was a single minute after the first plane hit the north tower that the initial emergency response unit was dispatched to the scene.
Of the almost 3,000 victims killed that day, 412 emergency personnel including firefighters, a chaplain, paramedics, law enforcement, patrol officers, port authority officers and more responded–to never come home. Also involved in the terrorist attacks were more than 6,000 individuals who were injured.
“I stand before you today to honor the brave men and women who moved towards danger as others ran away.
These true heroes paid the ultimate sacrifice walking into the danger with fear to help their fellow man,” Brewer said.
While 18 years may have passed, for many that day is relived over and over when remembering loved ones who had the courage to face the flames for justice, freedom, liberty and love.
Brewer, joined by Honor Guard member Chief Gerald McMillen, a retired veteran from the United States Coast Guard, rang the bell in four sets five times each.
The ringing symbolizes the end of a comrade’s duties and steeped in a 200 year old tradition, pays remembrance to the fallen for firefighters sacrifices.
Prior to the bells ringing, guest speaker Sarah Rogers embraced the “I Believe” theme for this year’s event, challenging audience members to know what they believe, stand on their beliefs and share their beliefs of God to a confused world.
The challenge, Rogers said, is that many people today don’t know who to believe or why they should believe anything. “Confusion stems from unbelief in the world,” she said. “Not knowing what we believe or what our beliefs are or whose voice to follow leads to confusion…which leads to other things.”
With voices flooding everyone daily from friends, family, social media and the political realm, Rogers said an epidemic of confusion and division is created. By following what the Bible states and not picking and choosing what parts to believe, a solid foundation can be created to stand on.
She likened the lukewarm stance of many in the world to a football player. What would a coach say if that vital team member just came and went as they pleased, only wanting to commit to play part of the time? That coach would not tolerate the behavior, telling the player they are either in the game fully or out, Rogers said.
Questioning God’s beliefs is something Rogers said even she has faced, but every time He had an answer. Her pastor, Asa Dockery once said, “’It doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters what the Word says,’” she stated.
According to Rogers, sharing what you believe with backed up knowledge and research helps Christians provide God’s cure to the confusion that takes place quickly when many become complacent.
After time passed from the 9/11 tragedy, the influx of people who were attending church began to dwindle. Once that encounter with God happens, staying on course by sharing the comfort, knowledge and life-long gift He provides is essential to easing mankind’s pain, Rogers said. “When no one else is doing what’s right, he wants those people to stand,” she said.
Special prayers were said after Rogers message from Tristian Bell, Elder Marcus Taylor, Arielle Defiore, Lena Champlin, Michael Roberts, Cason Roberts and Mya Butler. They prayed for youth, young leaders, government leaders, unborn children, restoration of families in America, persecuted Christians, military and our nation as a whole.
North Georgia Honor Guard Chaplain Ron Wallace led Honor Guard members in a posting of colors, recognizing all branches of service as well as firefighters and law enforcement. They provided a rifle salute and playing of taps to give a moment of solace for those who fought and are still fighting for our nation’s freedoms.
Organizer Lydia Long gave closing remarks about the words shared by her niece, guest speaker Sarah Rogers, and how she hoped her words prompted guests to think how they can make a difference with their families, the community and the nation.
She said, “Continuing to feed the poor, clothe the needy and help neighbors shows a love of Christ. Always strive to help those who are suffering in a dying world with the answer of Jesus,” Long said.
“Today as a community we remember the fallen of Sept. 11, 2001, and we move forward as a Christian nation, not forgetting those who sacrificed and gave their lives that day America was changed forever,” she concluded.