North Carolinians roll up sleeves and take time to remember

FAYETTEVILLE AND RALEIGH — Across North Carolina on Sunday, communities come together to remember a bright Tuesday morning in 2001, when two hijacked planes were slammed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. A third plane was flown into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The attacks were carried out by 19 highjackers. The nation later learned they were affiliated with al-Qaeda, a terror organization that, at that time, few Americans knew about. Their actions claimed the lives of 2,977 people across the three U.S. cities.”Fifteen years ago, the very fabric of our nation’s collective sense of security was torn.” said Fort Bragg’s Deputy Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Clayton M. Hutmacher, before a remembrance ceremony at at the main post flag pole at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville Friday.Surrounded by the men and women that keep us safe at home and abroad, attendees enjoyed musical tributes by the Division band and chorus after the firing of volley. In his remarks, Hutmacher urged Americans to honor the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform, along with their families.”Fort Bragg and our surrounding communities experienced these sacrifices perhaps more deeply than most,” said Hutmacher. “Cherish those that have fallen, and comfort their loved ones.””We have achieved remarkable successes, and overcome challenging setbacks, but our work is not done,” said Hutmacher.Secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, retired Marine Corps Major General Cornell Wilson, hopes that Americans never forget the evils that manifested on that day and will remain vigilant. He thinks North Carolina’s relationship with the War on Terror is special because of our state’s valued military assets.”The 18th [Airborne Corps] and 82nd [Airborne Division], those guys are some of the first on the scene when called to protect this country,” said Wilson.After being called to lead logistical efforts from Kuwait in 2003 preceding the Iraq War, Wilson’s service in defense of our country inspired his son to serve in the Marine Corps as well, eventually being commissioned as an officer and serving one tour in Iraq.”I’m very proud him,” said Wilson of his son’s service.In Monroe, N.C. Governor Pat McCrory will take the pulpit on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Charlotte and then later join Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) at the annual Monroe Patriot Day Celebration. High profile ceremonies in New York, Arlington, VA., and in Shanksville, Penn. will make national news with gripping images of grief. But in smaller communities across N.C. and the country, Americans gather to reach out in their own ways and honor smaller monuments, each remembering that day’s events and its impact on their hometowns.In many ways the nationwide observances are a way to re-capture the intense patriotism and sense of unity that followed the attacks. In 2001, President Bush requested legislation, passed by Congress on October 25, 2001, that officially established September 11 as Patriot Day. In 2009, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation making September 11 Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance.Last year, nearly 30 million Americans observed the day by volunteering. The desire to reach out to others is the real lasting legacy of 9/11, according to Amber Smith. Smith founded with her best friend Heather Leah Wood to match volunteers with organizations that need them. The 9/11 Weekend of Service is their biggest operation and culminated in a celebration at Red Hat amphitheater in Raleigh Sunday evening. On Friday she was leading a group of volunteers cleaning up East Wake Middle School in Raleigh.”In a national crisis, people instinctively want to help. Community service calls upon that energy and capitalizes on it for ongoing service,” said Amber, who was an 18-year-old freshman at N.C. State at the time of the attacks.The Weekend of Service has been operating for five years. Starting in February, they recruit and train military families and veterans for the 9/11 weekend to lead more than 100 projects across the area. This year they expect to top the 2,500 volunteers who participated in 2015.”For a lot of people this weekend can be an introduction to service see first hand what the needs of the community and something we hope people will carry forward throughout the year and not just today,” said Amber.