Today marks the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place Sept. 11, 2001. The Hattiesburg community gathered in front of Fire Station No. 1 to commemorate those 3,000 individuals who died due to the events that took place 13 years ago.
Hattiesburg Fire Department Chief Paul Presley led the ceremony.
At 8:46 a.m., Jonathan Moore from the Hattiesburg Fire Department sounded a bell to acknowledge the time that the American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Bo Tims, a member of Veterans of Foreign Affairs Post 3036, led a prayer to begin the commemoration.
The Hattiesburg Fire Department Honor Guard then lowered the American flag and everyone in attendance stood as Matt Saucier, assistant fire chief, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. After, The National Anthem was sung by Honorary Judge Gay Polk-Payton.
Sharon Miles, a volunteer specialist and on-site AmeriCorps supervisor from Hawkins Elementary School, came to the podium. The Hawkin’s students participated in a First Responders Awareness Day and came forward with three posters decorated with individual outlines of their hands to make an American Flag. They presented the posters to Fire Police Chiefs Frazier Bolton and Paul Presley and a member of the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).
Mayor Johnny Dupree thanked members of the First Response Team of America for their dedication to the United States and the Hattiesburg community. He also thanked council members, state representatives and USM President Rodney Bennett for attending.
“We continue to fight a battle to maintain our way of life,” Dupree said.
Dupree also spoke a lot about the 9/11 Memorial in New York.
Following Dupree’s remarks, the second bell was sounded at 9:03 am. Moore rang the bell to remember the United Airlines Flight 175 that was hijacked and crashed into the South Tower.
The Hattiesburg Police Department honor guard performed a 21-Gun Salute followed by placing a wreath on the 9/11 Memorial.
Following this tribute, Lt. Stephon Harris played TAPS, the U.S. Army Music Bugle Call, while Jessie Mathius performed “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Judge Polk came to the podium to sing Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” which was dedicated to all first responders.
The members of AmeriCorps thanked the Hattiesburg community for their welcoming arms and support through the time they have been living here. These young men and women were in Hattiesburg to help with the tornado relief and they are continuing their journey to Florida for other efforts.
An American Legion Post 24 representative presented Presley and Bolton with monetary donations to the Hattiesburg Fire and Police Departments.
Members of the American Red Cross (ARC) then came to present gifts as well. ARC Rise and Shine director Marlene Boyd spoke to the people at the gathering. ARC members made handmade pottery ornaments for men and women in attendance who serve the country.
“A simple thank you means a lot to us,” Presley said, as he closed the ceremony.
The ceremony was followed by a reception.