Exactly 19 years after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfolded before our eyes on our TV screens, Jackson Fire and Rescue held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its 9/11 Memorial in front of Station No. 1.
Jackson’s ceremony broke for a moment of silence at the exact minute — 9:02 a.m. — United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, killing all on board in a ball of fire that ignited the tower, causing it to collapse about 48 minutes later.
The only sounds heard during the moment of silence were the constant roar of traffic from the intersection of Highways 25, 32 and 61, and the ceremonial ting of a fire bell which was struck three times to honor those who died 19 years ago.
“We were asked several years ago by the History Department at the high school to start talking to their classes about 9/11, and the differences it has made to our operations since 9/11” said Fire Chief Jason Mouser.
When it was realized that high school students today have no memory of 9/11 because they were not yet born, members of Jackson Fire & Rescue came up with the idea to create a 9/11 Memorial three years ago.
JFR Capt. Ryan Davie, one of the firefighters who helped conceive of the idea for a memorial, gave the time line of how events unfolded 19 years ago.
“It was the most devastating foreign attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor,” he said. “Nineteen years may seem like a long time, but for most of us it just seems like yesterday.”
Within 102 minutes, 19 Al Qaeda terrorist hijackers aboard four airliners killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed numerous buildings. One plane failed to reach its destination in Washington, D.C., when passengers became aware of what was happening and overpowered the highjackers. It crashed in a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania, killing all on board.
The timeline is as follows (Eastern Time Zone):
• 8:47: American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
• 9:02: United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower.
• 9:41: American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon Building in Virginia.
• 9:50 The South Tower collapses.
• 10:00 United Airlines Flight 93 crashes in a field near Shanksville, PA.
• 10:28 The North Tower collapses, taking out nine other buildings and causing extensive damage to 12 more.
Jackson’s 9/11 Memorial is designed to be seen.
“With us being located at the biggest and most traveled intersection in town, this memorial will be lit 24 hours a day in hopes that seeing the memorial every day will ensure a deeper connection and support by all our residents and passers-by no matter the time of day,” Davie said.
JFD Capt. Samuel Herndon, who designed the memorial, thanked the people, businesses and organizations that helped make the memorial a reality. He then described the various parts of the Jackson 9/11 Memorial.
Pavestones form a pentagon to remember the building that was hit by American Airlines Flight 77.
Two black granite towers represent the Twin Towers. Engraved on them are the names of the 343 New York firefighters who died in the towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Also atop the towers is the Maltese cross, symbol of the New York City Fire Dept.
Three of the four black marble benches have engraved on them the time line of events on 9/11; the fourth has information and statistics.
Behind the towers are three flagpoles bearing the flags of our country, our state, and the firefighting profession. They flew at half-staff for the day.
“Our hope is that this memorial will give future generations a place to come, pay their respects, remember the devastating attacks and continue to teach their children how our country felt that day and how important it is to remember those individuals,” Herndon said.
Connecting the parking lot to the Memorial is the Cape Girardeau County Fallen Firefighters Memorial Walkway. All county firefighters who die in the line of duty will be memorialized with their names on pavestones.
There are future plans for improvements, including a plaque at the beginning of the walkway to thank donors.
About 50 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened the Memorial on Friday. An even larger event is being planned at the Memorial for next year’s 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
With Davie and Herndon holding the ribbon and Fire Chief Mouser by his side, Jackson Mayor Dwain Hahs cut the ribbon to conclude this year’s ceremony.