Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TOP STORY >>9/11 A day of remembrance

By PEG KENYON
Leader staff writer

Five years ago on Sept. 11, U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) and other congressmen gathered outside the House of Representatives, grieving after three commercial airliners captured by terrorists killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil.
“We were just all standing around, and then someone two rows in front of me started singing ‘God Bless America,’” Snyder said Monday on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Snyder was the main speaker at the first Honor and Remembrance ceremony at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History.
Snyder said America will always remember the tragedies at the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington and a sparsely populated area in Pennsylvania.

“I think, five years out, we’re not ever going to forget the people lost that day,” Snyder told the crowd. “And we come together to remember them and to rededicate ourselves to a great America.” Snyder talked about ways to help America reach its potential. His plan includes Americans adopting a “can-do spirit” to bolster its moral authority and working on national and world economic problems, keeping a “strong, smart military” ready for war, and increasing cross-cultural understanding.
After referring to cross-cultural understanding, Snyder stressed that America has a “pretty dismal” track record when it comes to speaking and understanding foreign languages.

“It’s not some leftover touchy- feely thing of the 60s,” Snyder quipped. Snyder said the U.S. is facing a difficult challenge in the war on terror. “We need proper equipping of the Iraqi military, improving their court system, having jobs available to them and reconstructing Iraq,” Snyder told The Leader. “There’s been a lot of wasted money on construction over there.”
Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim welcomed the crowd on this “solemn, joyous occasion, if that’s possible.”

The joyous side to the event was dedicating a new flagpole donated by the Woodmen of the World. Area manager, Howard Harts, said 2,000 flagpoles have been donated so far. The solemn portion included the presentation of a black wreath with white calla lilies descending from one side and the playing of Taps. The ceremony included the reading of roll calls of area heroes from law enforcement, firefighters/emergency medical personnel, the U.S. military, the Arkansas National Guard and civilians.

The roll call of heroes started with Lt. Williams Shelley, and names kept on flowing as other officials stepped up to the microphone with more names of local heroes. Shelley is a member of the Jacksonville police force. He received the Medal of Valor in 2005. Each toll of a bell denoted those who received the recognition posthumously. After each of the five categories of heroes, a candle was lit to honor them.

After the event, Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, told The Leader he was at Fort Campbell, Ky., when he heard of the 9/11 terrorist attack five years ago. “We were shocked,” Self said. “There was this tremendous heartache for the loss….and two weeks later, I was heading to Afghanistan.”