Pike County Times
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Pike County Remembers on this 18th Patriot Day

ZEBULON - The American Legion Pike Post 197 Family hosted the 2019 Patriot Day Ceremony on the square in Zebulon on September 11, 2019. Around 70 people took time out of their Wednesday to remember September 11 on this fateful anniversary. Tears and pride in our country were the theme of this day.

The Color Guard for the day was chosen with care to include members from emergency medical Services, fire fighters, law enforcement, and our military in honor of those who have been directly affected by the terrorist attack on September 11th. Advanced EMT Kathrine Stevens from Grady Emergency Medical Service represented our Emergency Medical Services, Navy Veteran and Deputy Jamal Willis from the Pike County Sheriff’s Office represented our Law Enforcement, Army SSG Brandon Rogers representing our Armed Forces, and Meansville Volunteer Fire Department firefighter and Army Veteran Stefan Huckaby representing our firefighters and military Veterans.

Staff Sergeant Schyler Coffer of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment and Staff Sergeant Brandon Rogers from Alpha Company, 177th Brigade Support Battalion. Both their units are in the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Georgia National Guard. Both Staff Sergeants Coffer and Rogers just recently returned from serving in Afghanistan supporting the War on Terrorism. Schyler Coffer is a Deputy Sheriff for Pike County and Brandon Rogers is the Pike County Director of Buildings and Grounds Department. They were welcomed home with a round of applause.

The Pike County American Legion Post 197 is committed to a POW/MIA tribute at every ceremony or program that it hosts. A Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Flag draped empty chair and table is placed as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POW and MIAs still unaccounted for from all wars and conflicts involving the United States of America. This is a reminder for all of us to spare no effort to secure the release of any American prisoners from captivity, the repatriation of the remains of those who died bravely in defense of liberty, and a full accounting of those missing. Pike County remembers our two known MIAs: Staff Sergeant Joel M. Matthews from WWII and Chief Petty Officer Willie L. King from the Vietnam War. May they someday, rest in peace, in the country they defended and provide final closure to their families. We also have a former POW, Specialist Sixth Class Lenard E. Daugherty who resides in Williamson, Pike County. May God bless this former POW for his sacrifice to our nation.

Commander Bryann Richardson was the Master of Ceremonies. He gave a history of 9-11 prior to the special speaker giving his remarks.

"Eighteen years ago, on this day, America suffered one of its worst days in its entire history. This day has become significant in world events. There is probably not a person over the age of eighteen among us in this crowd who does not know what they were doing that fateful day. If you were not old enough to remember the event, you were more than likely told what you were doing that September 11th morning. Many of us watched in disbelief that a tragedy could be so catastrophic and devastating. How could this happen to us, the greatest nation in the world? 9/11 resulted in the largest loss of life by a foreign attack on American soil. Our flags fly at half-staff today in memory and honor of the 2,977 9-11 victims.

What is the meaning of Patriot Day? Patriot Day was created as a response to these terrorist attacks on the United States of America. On 18 December 2001, the president at the time, George W. Bush signed Patriot Day into law as a memorial holiday. It is not a federal holiday however so schools and businesses normally stay open during this day. There is also a yearly proclamation calling all state and local governments and citiens to observe Patriot Day through programs and activities such as this, calling all U.S. departments, agencies, and organiations to lower the flag to half-staff and observe a moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 as a result of terrorist attacks on America.

What happened on September 11, 2001? 19 Islamic terrorists from the group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airlines bound for west coast destinations. These four fuel loaded aircrafts became four weapons of mass destruction aimed at targets in New York City and Washington DC.

A total of 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, DC, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. 265 fatalities were from those aboard the four planes.

At the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers.

Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers:
• 343 were New York City firefighters which included 2 paramedics. 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were officers at the Port Authority.
• There were 8 emergency medical technicians from private emergency medical service companies who died at the towers.
• Before the Twin Towers collapsed, an estimated 200 people jumped to their deaths.
• 128 companies within the World Trade Center towers lost employees in the attacks.
• 658 employees from the company Cantor Fitzgerald were lost.
• 372 non-U.S. citizens representing 115 nations were killed in the attacks.
• The victims ranged in age from two to 85 years.
• 1,609 people lost a spouse or partner in the attacks.
• An estimated 3,051 children lost a parent.
• 98 New York Fire Department vehicles were destroyed.
• Almost 10,000 people were treated for injuries, many severe.
• During 9-11, over 500,000 people were evacuated from lower Manhattan Island in less than 9 hours; making this event the largest and fastest sea lift in world history.

At the Pentagon in Washington DC:
• 184 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.
• 125 were in the building, and 59 were on board the aircraft.
• Of the 125 victims that were killed in the Pentagon, most of them worked for the United States Army or United States Navy.
• 70 were civilians.
• 55 were active duty members of the United States military including 33 Navy sailors and 22 Army soldiers. Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, was the highest-ranking military official killed at the Pentagon. Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 died when the plane crashed into a field. It is believed that the hijackers crashed the plane in that location, instead of their unknown target in Washington D.C., after the passengers and crew attempted to retake control of the flight deck. Post investigation and analysis of passenger cell phone and cockpit transmissions revealed that the heroism displayed by several passengers was unprecedented and awe-inspiring.

What were some historic events following 9-11?
• The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a record 6 days.
• The fires within the World Trade Center ruins continued to burn for 99 days, despite 4 million gallons of water used to extinguish the fires.
• 17 children were born without their fathers. These children have missed their fathers for over 17 years. Their generation are now serving as first responders and armed forces members.
• The clean-up of the 1.8 million tons of wreckage from the World Trade Center site took 9 months, officially ending on 30 May 2002.
• The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to 11 September, merging 22 governmental agencies into one, including the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States Coast Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
• As recent as 25 July 2018, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office positively identified the remains of 26-year old Scott Michael Johnson, a World Trade Center victim reducing the unidentified victims to 1,111. A military term for this is Missing in Action (MIA). Today our POW/MIA table reflects their absent and desire for final closure to their families.
• The estimated cost of the World Trade Center site damage, including damage to surrounding buildings, infrastructure and subway facilities was 60 billion dollars.
• The repair of the Pentagon was officially completed at a record pace in February 2003 at a total cost of 5 billion dollars.
• The 104 floor, One World Trade Center, known as the “Freedom Tower” took eight years to build with a first occupancy date of 3 November 2014 at a construction cost of 3.9 billion dollars.
• On 7 October 2001, 25 days after 9-11, the War on Terrorism began, starting in Afghanistan, making it our country’s longest war and it still continues to this day as we see with Staff Sergeants Coffer and Rogers. Approximately, 2 million service members have been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The total monetary cost of the War on Terrorism to Americans has been over 4 trillion dollars. Over 6,900 armed forces members have died directly in combat or in support of combat. Over 52,000 service members have returned wounded and that does not include the thousands suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"9/11 wasn’t just a New York City event, nor was it just an American event. It affected countries and cultures across the world, and continues to this day," he said. "The facts just heard represent only a small portion of the total effect of this devastating event and its impact on ALL Americans and the world."

Dennis Tea, Veteran and Legionnaire, was the special speaker for this event. Dennis has a fascinating history.

Dennis joined the Atlanta Police Department in 1974. In 1976, he joined the Tampa Police Department retiring in 1997 as a Senior Detective after serving in law enforcement for over 23 years. Dennis worked in Vice, did undercover work, which included 3 years of deep undercover work on a financial case involving prostitution. In addition, he investigated cases involving gambling, pornography, and organized crime.

Dennis joined the United States Coast Guard Reserves in 1978 and retired in 2006 as a Petty Officer First Class with 31 years. During his service, he worked mostly as a Port Securityman providing port security, boarding foreign and domestic ships for navigation law enforcement, inspecting port facilities for security and environmental hazard activities, and reacting to oil spill incidents. Dennis retired as a Marine Sciences Technician.

Dennis was working on a Dignitary Team in Florida as a motorcade driver on September 10, 2001 when President George W. Bush was in Sarasota, Florida. He described the events of that day from a timeline.

6 a.m. The morning of September 11, a group of Middle Eastern men asked to meet with President Bush but was turned away. The President went for a run after that.
8:39 a.m. The motorcade departed for the elementary school in Sarasota where President Bush was scheduled to read to students.
The motorcade arrived prior to the attacks on the towers.
Several Secret Service Agents went into the school
9:06 a.m. The President was told of the attack. He continued to read his story to the children but finished up in order to leave.
9:34 a.m. The motorcade proceded very quickly to the airport. The Secret Service was concerned that the itinerary had been disclosed to the public so there was a worry about the possibility of a car bombing. Dennis said that the trip was made VERY quickly.
9:56 a.m. Air Force 1 departed Sarasota.

Dennis concluded his story by saying that he was just in the right place at the right time.

Pike Post 197 hosted a 9-11 Memorial on the courthouse square. It includes those in uniform who died in the line of duty on 9-11. There are four chairs with mementos representing the 8 emergency medical technicians, the 343 firefighters and paramedics, the 60 law enforcement officers, and the 55 military personnel. To the left and right of the chairs are two prints representing the first responders raising the United States Flag on top of the rubble of the World Trade Center, and the military receiving the Flag as the United States goes on the offensive to combat terrorism. Behind and above the chairs is a photo of lower Manhattan Island on a bight sunny day with the World Trade Center towers representing the tranquility across our nation and the living 2,977 victims prior to 9-11.

Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" and Aaron Tippett's song, "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" were played during the ceremony.

There was a moment of silence for those who died and for those who lost loved ones that day. Then the New York Fire Department's Last call was played as a tribute to fire fighters, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical technicians who lost their lives that day followed by the playing of Taps.