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Price of Freedom hosts Sept. 11 remembrance event

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — Public service is about a call to step up, and first responders are well-acquainted with the feeling of being called to serve, said Salisbury Fire Department Chaplain Dan Peters during a Sept. 11, 2001, remembrance ceremony Saturday.

“Those who are willing to serve unselfishly are what make America strong,” Peters told attendees at the Price of Freedom Museum on Weaver Road. “You demonstrate the American resolve that keeps our country free.”

And while the ceremony wasn’t held on Sept. 11, Peters stressed the importance of never forgetting the events of 2001, regardless of the date.

“Sept. 11 is a very important date for us in America and for its history as a date that’s never to be forgotten,” he said.

The series of  terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda involved commercial airliners crashing into the World Trade Center’s North and South towers and the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers thwarted the hijackers. Thousands were killed or injured during the attack and many more have died from illnesses in the years since.

“I think the first one, a lot of folks thought it was just an accidental crash and nothing more to it,” Peters said. “But as the day unfolded, especially the next hour and a half, the tragedy hit us all and the realization that things would not be the same. … As we look back on the tragic events we’ve experienced, we want to help, but how can we help.”

He said that being present for people who are grieving is more power than people might realize, even when it’s hard to find the right words to say.

“When someone is grieving, you may fear not having the right words to say,” he said. “Often, this can lead to isolation for a grieving person. Since people fear saying something wrong, simply being present for someone who is grieving is more powerful than you can understand.”

Providing a meal, making a phone call or sitting with someone are ways to help, he said.

Following Peters’ speech, representatives of each first responder agency offered fire, police and EMS prayers. Peters offered a tribute to fallen firefighters and Tracy Winecoff, Kannapolis EMS chief, rang the bell three times to signal the end of duty for the fallen.

Winecoff on Saturday also brought his firetruck — Ladder 49 — to display along with others from past and present. The truck comes from the 2004 John Travolta Movie “Ladder 49.” It was leased from the Baltimore Fire Department for filming, returned to the department and later sold to a collector in New Jersey.

Winecoff and some friends in May drove the truck, which does not have air conditioning, from New Jersey to his farm in the China Grove area. Already, the truck has been featured in some local parades, including the Fire Truck Festival at the N.C. Transportation Museum in June.

Winecoff said he would like to restore the truck to its original state, as it has developed rust over its many years in service.

Other agencies and fire trucks present at Saturday’s event included the China Grove Fire Department, the Bostian Heights Fire Department, Atwell Fire Department, West Rowan Fire Department, Locke Fire Department, N.C. Highway Patrol, Rowan County EMS, Woodleaf Fire Department, Rowan County Rescue Squad and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Besides Winecoff, other collectors who brought their vehicles included Paul Brown and Tony Corriher.

Bill Hamrick, who helped organize Saturday’s event, said it was an opportunity for the community to give back to first responders.

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.

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