Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

When Rowan Rescue Squad Chief Eddie Cress was looking for someone to carry the wreath during Wednesday’s Sept. 11 Memorial Service, he didn’t have to go very far for a volunteer. His son, Austin, stepped in to be part of the annual service that honors emergency responders and law enforcement who died during the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Austin is a volunteer with the Rescue Squad and has been involved since he interned with the department at age 14.
His mother, Luanne Cress, also a member of the squad since 2010, carried the other side of the wreath.
“I wanted to help out the community and honor the ones who died,” the 19-year-old Austin said.
Luanne said she was tickled that her son wanted to participate. Austin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder, has been able to enhance his social skills through his work with the department. Luanne said she felt honored to participate with her son since the service and the men and women who participate are, in a sense, part of a family.
America should never forget what happened 12 years ago, she said.
Luanne said something tragic could happen at “a moment’s notice.”
“People forget if we don’t continue to take care of each other and honor those folks. This is our way of saying ‘We appreciate what you do,’ ” she said.
Nichole Barnett, who is a native of New York, attended the event with her husband, Ronnaldo King. In prior years, Barnett was able to attend services in New York, but has lived in the area for five or six years and wanted to attend this event. The couple lives in Kannapolis, but Ronnaldo works in Salisbury.
Barnett’s father, who is an Army veteran, lost some friends in 2001 who worked and died in one of the twin towers.
“It’s important to commemorate the people who lost their lives. It shifted the nation,” she said.
Barnett said it’s important to remember Sept. 11 “no matter your political background or opinion.”
Dolly Canup saw her father Marvin Yost, a retired Salisbury assistant fire chief, rush out the door to fires over the years.
She attends the memorial event every year, she says, in “remembrance of all the citizens and emergency services personnel who tried to save so many people.”
Through the years, Canup was able to get to know the other firefighters and has become “part of their family.”
Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell said as the years go by, the focus of Sept. 11, for him, has shifted and become more about people and working together.
“For me it’s grown to be about people. It’s grown to be about humanity. It’s grown to be about helping one another,” he said.
Today, Sept. 11 evokes a spirit of cooperation, hope, positivity, but Parnell said no one could ever forget that day.
Students at Carson High held the school’s first Sept. 11 flagpole event, which was generated by word-of-mouth among the school’s students and staff. The event was held before school, and about 200 students wearing patriotic ribbons prayed and sang “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
Mark Riley, chairman of the schools Fine Arts Department, said the reason for the event was to “reaffirm our commitment to the 9/11 event, to uplift our country, our leaders, or military, our fallen, and to make the students aware of how blessed they are to live in the USA.”
Riley said the event was also an attempt to solicit response from the students about where they were at the time of the attacks, who they were with, what they were doing, as well as how it made them feel then and makes them feel today.
Although pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at Sacred Heart Catholic School had not been born during the 2001 terrorist attacks, they did observe the day, said school spokeswoman Robin Fisher. The pre-kindergarten class also listened as their teacher read from a book “September 12th … We Knew Everything Would Be All Right,” written by a first-grade class in Missouri. The Missouri class, many of whom would be in college now, wrote the book the day after Sept. 11.
The school’s eighth-graders painted the spirit rock with the Sept. 11, 2001 and the words “We Remember” on it.
Other events at the school included a special opening to its morning assembly that featured scripture and prayers offered in remembrance. The students observed a minute of silence at 8:45 a.m. with the church bells ringing in the background. The students also recited the Rosary, dedicated to lives lost on Sept. 11.
Students at Isenberg Elementary School observed two moments of silence, in honor of the two towers, and two classes created memory quilts in observance of the day.
The Hefner VA Medical Center displayed its flag at half-staff on Wednesday and held a moment of silence to honor “the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” said spokeswoman Carol Waters.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook: