Mayor Thurman Bartie prays for strength as community comes together in 9/11 remembrance

Published 1:05 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

For Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson, Sept. 11 is more than a day of remembrance for the fallen. It’s also a reminder of service to others.

Benson just finished his shift with a Chicago fire department and was in a meeting when plane stuck first tower in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

The first plane was thought to have been an accident, but with a second and subsequent events over a short period of time, it was learned this was a complex, coordinated attack, Benson said.

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Almost 3,000 people died initially in the acts of terrorism, but a true count of deaths would need to include other factors.

“What’s the number of lives that have been lost since then?” Benson said. “It exceeds the number of lives that were lost on that day because a lot of first responders had health problems, and then the amount of suicides as a result of that has been exponential. So, part of this is remembering the service aspect, but it’s also remembering support.”

Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie led a 9/11 remembrance ceremony Monday morning 4th Street in front of City Hall, where he chronicled the events of the tragic day.

“We pray strength to all of America as we continue to experience violent acts against the fabric of American Democratic processes and freedoms,” Bartie said with a backdrop of a large American flag hanging from a fire department ladder truck.

He spoke of paying homage to and expressing gratitude to those who serve as first responders and continued prayers for survivors’ of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Now, 22 years later, the nation still faces terrorist attacks and domestic threats.

During the solemn ceremony, Port Arthur Fire Department’s Honor guard posted colors, and a firefighter rang the fire department bell.

The bell was rung five times; one for each tower that was struck and the lives lost in New York, a third for the plane that crashed, a fourth for the plane that struck the Pentagon in Virginia and the fifth for all of the first responder lives who were lost that day.