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Law enforcement, fire, first responders remember those who died on 9/11

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Christine Maloney stood dressed in an American flag-style shirt with a small pin with the words “Let’s Roll.”

Those are the words of Todd Beamer, a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001.

Maloney was among many who attended a 9/11 ceremony Wednesday at the Salisbury-Rowan Firefighter Memorial, located at 1402 S. Main St. Emergency responders, city and county leaders, and supporters gathered to pay homage to those whose lives were taken 18 years ago by the terrorist attacks and to honor emergency responders who continue to serve.

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers with ties to the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda boarded four airplanes and used them like guided missiles to kill nearly 3,000 people. The majority of those who died were at the World Trade Center in New York. More than 100 were killed when a plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, and 44 people died when passengers retook a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania that is believed to have been headed for Washington.

Maloney said her son, who was a New York City police officer at the time and is now a detective, rushed across the Brooklyn Bridge that day. He’s never talked about what happened, only to say that he rushed to help others. Her brother and his son were working in construction in New York and helped with the cleanup afterward.

She said ceremonies like the one held Wednesday morning are “very important because we should never forget.”

One of the important lessons that Maloney said stuck with her from that day is that “we are not as safe as we think.”

Salisbury Mayor Al Heggins quoted from a Bible verse in which Jesus prayed while in the Garden of Gethsemane to have the cup pass from him before the Crucifixion.

“When I think about our firefighters, police officers and first responders and I think about the brave people who fought on that day and lost their lives during 9/11, it was a big choice that they had to make. … But they said, ‘Your will not my will, Lord,’ and they stood in service to our country,” Heggins said.

She said she appreciates the service of first responders and that this is also a time to reflect on those who continue to do great work.

Rowan County commissioners Vice Chairman Jim Greene also spoke about the 2,977 people who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

“Let us never forget that this attack was an attack to horrify America,” Greene said. “Our enemies, groomed into traumatizing our citizens, creating chaos, causing fear to paralyze us from our normal lives. While the coordination of these planes created unimaginable death, our response was far from paralyzation or intimidation. Our enemies found our people running, but they were running toward those horrors — our firefighters, our police officers, our citizens ran to save those that could be saved often at the loss of their own lives.”

Greene said Wednesday’s observance was to celebrate the spirit of America. He read from a proclamation by the commissioners remembering 9/11 and honoring the responders who continue to serve their communities.

Area chaplains offered prayers for those who continue to be of service, and the names of law enforcement officers, firefighters and rescue personnel who have died this year were read.

The ceremony ended with the placement of a memorial wreath at the base of the American flag.

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