By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On Tuesday, September 11, about 100 people gathered on the corner of 4th and Broad streets, where a small memorial park honors those lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Every year on the anniversary, the Gadsden Beautification Board hosts a memorial to remember what happened and the people that were lost.
Above the crowd, the purpose for the event was spelled out with a sign that read “9-11, Today, We Remember.”
Gadsden Beautification Board Chairperson Pat Sherman welcomed everyone to the event and thanked the people and organizations that helped make the event possible, including city officials, Downtown Gadsden, Inc., the fire department, the police department, other first responders and more. Sherman also talked about why everyone was there.
“This is something we never want to forget,” said Sherman.
Gadsden City Councilwoman Dr. Cynthia Toles gave a moving invocation, praying for the families of those lost, first responders and city and county officials
“We pray for all those men and women that have responsibility over us, so that we as a people here in Gadsden can in live in peace and harmony,” said Toles. “Father in Heaven, we pray for love, we pray for guidance and, most of all, we pray for peace. And we pray that we will always remember this day and that it would never happen again on our soil.”
Following the invocation, the Gadsden Fire Department Honor Guard and members of Gadsden City High School ROTC, escorted by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Patrol, lowered the flag to half-mast and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Honor Guard and ROTC members remained at attention while Gadsden City Clerk Iva Nelson sang the National Anthem.
Sherman introduced Gadsden Beautification Board Secretary Bill Browning, who worked at the AT&T building across from the World Trade Center.
“I had the good fortune to watch every bit of the construction of the World Trade Center from my office window and chronicled it in photographs, like this one,” said Browning, displaying a photo he took of the towers.
Browning talked about how the World Trade Center buildings were not always seen as iconic New York buildings, and even received criticism for their proposed designs, which were compared to milk cartons in the city skyline.
“As in all things, New Yorkers, myself included, came to adopt the World Trade Center buildings,” said Browning. “They were the first buildings you saw when you were coming into New York Harbor or coming up on one of the highways from New Jersey or Long Island.”
Browning also discussed the good times he had in the World Trade Center. He would take friends to Windows on the World, a restaurant in the North Tower, to dine and then going to the observation tower.
“The towers became landmarks, and unfortunately they became terrorist targets,” said Browning. “The South Tower was bombed in 1993.”
But the towers still stood tall, until the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Seventeen years ago, I watched, as most Americans watched, the World Trade Centers hit by aircraft and eventually fall on television,” said Browning. “And nearly 3,000 Americans from 134 countries died in those collapsing towers, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. We must not ever forget them and this day. The victims list of 9-11 continues to grow as first responders succumb to the poisoning, basically, that they took in excavating the pile.”
The Gadsden State Community College Choir performed several patriotic songs. A moment of silence was held, and Cecil Knowles performance of Taps on the bagpipes ended the memorial.