About 170 area residents gathered Sunday evening, Sept. 11, on the Boone County Courthouse lawn to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11/01, the day terrorists attacked the United States on its own soil.
“I want you to take a moment to envision where you were and how you felt on that fateful day,” said guest speaker Shannon Falk of Norfolk, a U.S. Army veteran with 11 years of service. “Many years have gone by, but it is important to remember the emotions and feelings that we as Americans shared. The legacy of Americans that did not get the chance to rebuild and heal . . . to spend another day with their families. . . . to grow older.”
Falk recalled the stories of heroism that occurred on 9/11 in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. He recalled the actions of passengers aboard Flight 93, who stormed the cockpit and forced the jetliner to crash in a Pennsylvania field instead of the intended target, saving many lives. Falk also recalled the actions of firemen and first responders in New York City, who lost their lives when the Twin Towers crashed to the ground.
Sadly, some Americans have forgotten the sense of purpose that united America in the war on terrorism, believing that “if America would just mind its own business, the terrorists would just leave us alone.”
Falk pointed out that America did not enter the war on terrorism until after 9/11. “The 9/11 attackers came to us, we did not come to them,” he said.
Since 2001, nearly 7,000 American service men and women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 50,000 others have been wounded.
We remain in danger of terrorist attacks on Americans and their core values until the war on terror is won, he said.
“Appeasement and pacifism have enormous appeal if you do not consider the deadly consequences of allowing evil to remain unchecked,” said Falk. The heroes of 9/11, he said, have taught us that we need to “do something about” terrorism and to never give up.
Falk drew analogies between the threats posed by terrorists of today and those of the Japanese and German military forces during World War II.
“This is a different type of enemy than the ones our parents and grandparents fought, but our moral clarity is the same,” he said. “We are facing an evil ideology that must be destroyed.”
Falk said he is proud to live in the U.S., “where people stand up and give their lives in the defense of others, and do so with little or no thought to themselves or time to consider the consequences. They simply do it because their instincts say it is the right thing to do. I hope America never stops raising these kinds of people.”
In closing, Falk noted that many of the children present for the program were too young to remember 9/11. He asked permission to present an American Flag to the youngest child present as a remembrance of the 9/11 sacrifices.
The flag was presented to Joe M., foster son of American Legion Post 162 Commander Tina Valencia-Landauer.
After the speech, Falk noted that he had excerpted portions of his remarks statements by the American Legion. He noted that he was born in Albion and spent time with his grandparents, Dale and Mavis Powers. His mother, P. K. Powers of Norfolk, was present for the ceremony.
Preceding the annual ceremony was a five-block parade led by the Veterans’ Color Guard, Nebraska Patriot Guard and American Legion Riders. Albion Fire & Rescue also participated. Earlier in the afternoon, a movie “MAX,” about a military service dog, was shown at the Gateway Theatre.
The program opened with the singing of The Star Spangled Banner by Scott and Stephanie Wright, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation by Denny Reis. Rich Jacot served as master of ceremonies.
The program closed with the playing of Taps and a gun salute by the Veterans’ Honor Guard.
A dinner was served by the sponsoring organization, Sons of American Legion Squadron 162, at the downtown mini-park after the ceremony.