PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 11, 2013

9-11 remembered in PA

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

— Under a canopy of sunny blue early autumn sky Wednesday, Port Arthur residents young and old took time to remember Sept. 11, 2001, the tragic day that claimed so many lives and changed the nation.

Somber observances  began early at the Jefferson County Subcourthouse gazebo Wednesday, a day that was very much like 12 years ago when a terrorist-commandeered commercial airliner plowed into the World Trade Center’s north tower.

At the gazebo, emergency responders joined elected officials to mourn those who lost their lives in the terror attacks on U.S. soil, and to pay to tribute to first responders who put their lives on the line each and every day.

“I am very humbled to be with you this morning as the city of Port Arthur remembers and commemorates those who made the supreme sacrifice following the attack on this nation,” Floyd Johnson, Port Arthur city manager, said.

Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton detailed the 9-11 timeline beginning at 7:59 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked, setting in motion a day of terror on U.S. soil.   

“On that day we learned how many patriots there are in the U.S.,” Blanton said.

In all, 2,753 people were killed as a result of the four coordinated terror attacks orchestrated by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda.  Of those who perished, 343 were firefighters and paramedics and 72 police officers.

“These men and women proved they were patriots doing what they do to protect us,” Blanton said. “Let us never forget what happened and we must always remember the sacrifices made by so many.”

While Blanton recalled the events of 9-11, State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, talked to Tekoa Academy students, who had no recollection of 9-11 because of their age.

“Look at all the young kids. I suspect they see this day as a day to be out of school. None of them have any memories of why we are here,” Deshotel said. “But, that’s why we do this, to educate and make sure we don’t forget.”

For those old enough, the events of Sept. 11 are burnt into memories, Deshotel said.

Sept. 11 gave a new perspective to the U.S., that the country was no longer isolated.

“That was the day the world changed,” he said. “Much like this morning, nobody was thinking about al Qaeda. We woke up into a new world. The world we have today.”

Since the terror attacks more than a decade ago, the day has evolved into not only one of remembrance, but also a time to pay homage to emergency responders, and a time to reflect on what it means to be a patriot.

Patriotism, Deshotel told the youngsters, is love for your neighbor, love for your country and the act of looking out and protecting one another.

“It is important we don’t forget, and don’t let that happen again,” Deshotel said. “The terrorists attempted to break American spirit, but we fought back with our resilient spirit.”

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews