9/11 flagpole dedications time to remember fallen
Tue, 09/26/2017 - 5:29pm
Community turns out for patriotic presentations 2 weeks after officials forced to reschedule due to Irma
Gone, but not forgotten.
This proved true, in many aspects, as the community gathered Monday for two American flag/flagpole dedication ceremonies in honor and remembrance of all those affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Though held two weeks after the 16th anniversary of 9/11, the presentations still proved meaningful and timely, even after threats of inclement weather brought on by Hurricane Irma forced WoodmenLife officials – those responsible for the dedications – to postpone the events from their original date of Sept. 11.
Joined by members of the public, WoodmenLife saluted America’s heroes during the two ceremonies, the first at Mt. Airy Town Hall and the second, at Habersham County Fire Department station No. 17 (Panther Creek) in Clarkesville.
WoodmenLife Area Recruiting Manager Todd Wiley opened the ceremony, thanking those in attendance for being there.
“Since 2002, WoodmenLife chapters across the country have been dedicating flagpoles and presenting flags, not only to honor the heroes and victims of Sept. 11, 2001, but also the men and women of our armed forces serving in combat,” he said. “In addition, these ceremonies pay tribute to the men and women in our community who risk their lives daily to keep us safe – police officers, firefighters, emergency rescue personnel and other first responders – they all deserve our thanks and admiration.”
Wiley said more than 5,000 flagpoles have been dedicated to the aforementioned personnel in special ceremonies held by WoodmenLife and its chapters, with hundreds more to be dedicated this year.“We can think of no more special way to honor these brave men and women than the sight of the American flag flying proudly,” he said. “Patriotism is at the very core of WoodmenLife. It is the fabric that makes us who we are.”
For more than 125 years, Wiley said WoodmenLife has strived to promote family, community and country. In doing so, since 1947, its chapters have presented 3 million American flags to community-based organizations across the nation, and nearly 285,000 American Patriot handbooks to students in elementary, middle and high schools.
“In 2001, we experienced horrors we never thought would occur in the land of freedom and opportunity,” he said. “Thousand of citizens and those of other countries lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Hundreds of heroes materialized after those attacks, and it is to them and to those fighting to strengthen our freedom, that we dedicate this ceremony.”
Wiley then quoted former President Abraham Lincoln, who once said, “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
“On this anniversary of the attacks, we each remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “We’ll probably always remember. The events of that day changed our lives forever, making us realize that freedom is a very precious thing and not to be taken lightly.”
Wiley said a commemorative plaque at the base of the flagpole will read: “In honor and remembrance of the heroes and victims in the fight against terrorism, to celebrate the enduring spirit of all Americans, presented by WoodmenLife.”
Wiley’s comments were delivered after an invocation by the Rev. Brian James, senior pastor at Level Grove Baptist Church, and a few remarks by Mt. Airy Mayor Gary Morris.
“I wanted to sing, but they wouldn’t let me,” Morris said in opening the presentation, causing the crowed to erupt into a lighthearted laughter. “It’s a great honor for the town of Mt. Airy to host this event, especially at this school that means so much me personally. We welcome you to the town and welcome you to our new municipal building. Our new municipal building is 100 years old and has seen a lot of children over the years. …”
Morris welcomed those in attendance to help themselves to hors d’oeuvres in the schoolhouse, where he said they were also invited to tour the historic facility, nearly completely renovated with the exception of a few outstanding projects.
“Thank you for being here. It is an honor and a privilege to have you in the town of Mt. Airy,” he said.
Wiley again thanked those in attendance for taking the time to turn out for the presentation and in some cases, both.
“Thank you for your time to be with us during this dedication of the flagpole,” he said, prior to an invocation by Kenneth Franklin, chaplain of Habersham County Fire Services.
Wiley again shared with the crowd some facts about WoodmenLife dedications and what they seek to accomplish, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“… It is fitting that we dedicate this flagpole today,” he said. “Our nation’s flag atop the pole serves as a symbol of the enduring spirit of all Americans.”
Wiley also took time to quote former President Ronald Reagan, who once said, “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free.”
“And now it is with great pride we dedicate this flagpole to all the Americans, heroes and victims,” he said.
At both presentations, raising of the flags was carried out by the Habersham Central High School Air Force JROTC. Seniors Group Cmdr. Elizabeth Fugel, 17, of Cornelia, and Inspector Gen. Eric Hopkins, 17, of Mt. Airy, were responsible for the first presentation in Mt. Airy, while juniors NCOIC of Services Squadron Meadow Sellier, 16, of Demorest, and Deputy Corps Cmdr. Deborah Hulsey, 16, of Cornelia, led the second program.
A reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, at both events, was led by Wiley. A moment of silence was had after each flag was lowered to half-staff.
A 21-gun salute by Grant Reeves Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7720, American Legion Post 104 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 15 rounded out the presentations, followed by a rendition of taps by Jimmy McDuffie and Madison Billingslea, respectively.
The programs were presented in conjunction with WoodmenLife chapters No. 143 (Clarkesville) and No. 553 (Cornelia).