On Sept. 11, 2001, the lives of all Americans were changed forever as thousands watched multiple terrorist attacks occur on live television. America is set to honor the heroes of that day, and the days following, this month on the 20th anniversary of the four coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda. According to 911memorial.org, nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations were killed; 2,753 in New York, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 people on Flight 93.
Here in DeKalb County, the annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony will once again be held at the DeKalb County Courthouse steps.
The 20th anniversary memorial service is set to take place on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at 11 a.m. In case of inclement weather, it will be at Fort Payne City Hall. The guest speaker for the event is Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. The Fort Payne Fire Honor Guard will present the colors, and Georgia Williams will sing the National Anthem. Mark Fulgumn will then conclude the event with a performance on the bagpipes.
“The greatest way we can honor those who perished on 9/11 and those who have perished as a result is to remember, to tell the story in our homes and classrooms,” said Event Organizer Craig White. “To speak of the bravery and courage of every emergency service person who continues to go to work. To proudly support our military and to fly the American Flag in our front yards.”
Craig White, pastor at Pisgah Baptist Church, is now retired from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office but helped lead the first gathering on the courthouse steps after the attacks in 2001. First responders from DeKalb County led a ceremony on Sept. 12, 2001 to pray and remember the lives lost just one-day prior.
“Some of the first images I saw were of the people jumping from the tower,” he said. “Life changed that day. Everything we did became more important in protecting our communities and this nation. That protection is still important to me.”
White said the days that followed saw the United States become united for one great purpose.
“I still see and hear President Bush on the rubble with the fireman, saying, ‘We hear you and those who did this will hear us too’. President Bush kept his promise. I am very passionate about never forgetting what happened to this nation that day.”
White has helped lead the event at the courthouse for the last few years, with help from Steven Whited, instructor of Criminal Justice at Northeast Alabama Community College.
“We can honor these awesome folks by coming together as a great Nation and stop being divided by so many opinions. The best way to honor those brave folks, Love God and love each other,” White said.
White gives thanks to the DeKalb County Commission, Fort Payne Fire and Police Departments, Fort Payne City Council, judges, District Attorney, courthouse security, Georgia Williams and Phillip Reed of Reed Audio for their support in making the ceremony possible.
The Rainsville First Responder Committee will not hold their annual ceremony this year due to COVID-19; however, Chairperson Kayron Guffey said they will hold a “placing of the wreath” on Thursday, Sept. 9 at the Rainsville First Responder Memorial.