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Southeast Texas remembers 9-11-01

By Amy Moore

The News staff writer

Port Arthur firefighter Gary Miguez said his oldest son has only seen him cry twice — the first time at his father’s funeral and the second was six years ago today.

The long lasting memories of the events on Sept. 11, 2001 still have an emotional impact on Americans who were not even directly affected by the attacks. However, as the anniversary of one of the saddest days in recent U.S. history bears down on us again, people across the world, the nation, the state and the region join together to remember the heroes that were made that fateful day.

Port Arthur city council members will put aside political differences Tuesday morning to honor the fallen Americans from 9-11 and pay tribute to our local first responders who lay their lives on the line each day for our protection.

Congressman Ted Poe said although it is important and saddening to remember the thousands who lost their lives six years ago, it is also important to remember that those who lived did so because of the courage and strength of the first responders.

“As people were running out of the towers in New York, the fire and police departments were rushing in. They died so others could live and we have a great deal of appreciation for them. I can’t say enough good things about them,” Poe said.

Bearing the phrase ‘First in, last out,’ many firefighters know the risks they take when they head out to fires and other emergencies.

“I don’t consider myself a hero. I do this because I enjoy it,” Miguez said. “We are a big brotherhood and we take care of each other.”

Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush said it is the natural instinct of police and fire fighters to want to protect and remembering the events of 9-11 only strengthens the bond between the men and women in uniform.

“There’s been a lot of family bonding. They still have their little arguments but they’d take up for each other in an instant,” Bush said.

Even after six years, both Bush and Miguez said the tragedy of 9-11 does not get any easier to handle. A 13-year veteran of the Fire Department and an Army veteran as well, Miguez said he does not think about the attacks when he leaves the fire house heading to an emergency. Instead, he thinks about his family.

“I have two small children at home. I think about them and being safe,” he said.

Still, the after effects of the attacks still haunts local families. The Berg’s of Sabine Pass, the Reynolds’ and Bobb’s of Port Arthur as well as the Block’s of Vidor still mourn the loss of their sons and daughter who gave their lives fighting the war in Iraq.

“This conflict is long term and there’s a long road ahead of us, but as a nation we are much more grateful for our military and their sacrifice,” Poe said. “That’s the one thing we do agree on as a country. We are grateful for our men and women in uniform.”

After spending a day with a New York detective in 2003, Bush said he was impressed with the police officer’s outlook as being hailed a hero.

“He said ‘it just happened there, that if it had happened here we would have done the same thing,’” the Chief said.

Whether they consider themselves heroes or regular working Americans, the men and women who serve and protect will be honored for their sacrifice and the innocent lives that were lost at the hands of terrorists will be remembered.

The city of Port Arthur’s commemorate ceremony begins at 9 a.m. at the downtown pavilion. The events include a narrative by the Port Arthur Police and Fire Departments, a bell ceremony and 21-gun salute.

In Beaumont, Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica will host the 9-11 Remembrance and Peace Prayer Pilgrimage starting at 7 p.m., at the Cathedral Basilica. The half-mile procession will include fire fighters, police officers, military personnel, emergency medical professionals and all people of good will from throughout all of Southeast Texas, along with fire trucks, police cruisers, EMS and military vehicles.

The public is invited to all events to support the first responders. Brief periods of prayer will be held at the Main Fire Station, the Central Police Station and the Port of Beaumont Military Headquarters along the route of the pilgrimage. Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica is located at 700 Jefferson Street in Beaumont.