By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – A decade after 9/11, the country gathered in remembrance and in gratitude, and the cities of Verona and Tupelo joined in.
Both cities held events to remember 9/11 and to thank area first responders. Verona’s celebration of Patriots Day included an hour-long program of music, poetry, sermons and a sea of red, white and blue.
Almost 100 folks, all wearing red, white and blue, attended the outdoor ceremony in Verona.
Mayor Bobby Williams thanked the members of the National Guard who were present, as well as the city’s first responders.
“They truly put their lives at risk every day in their commitment to keep us safe,” he said.
Members of the Verona Police and Fire departments were on hand to recognize and honor their fellow first responders.
“You’ll never know how much we appreciate what you do,” said Verona Fire Department Chief Mac McCoy. “We thank you, and we can’t thank you enough.”
The event also featured essays and poems written by Verona Elementary School third-graders Sa Niyah Shumpert and Jordan Davis.
“I wish I could have helped,” Shumpert read from her essay. “I feel so sad for all those people during 9/11 who died.”
The Rev. Dennis Fink, pastor at Verona United Methodist Church, said God was providing hope on 9/11.
“Hope came through the first responders. It’s through you first responders that God works,” he said. “God was busy on 9/11.”
John Lindsey, who helped organize the Verona remembrance, encouraged everyone to love and help their fellow man.
“We need to recapture that togetherness we felt 10 years ago today,” he said. “We must always be first responders. We are all called by God to love our fellow citizens.”
The ceremony concluded with the lighting of candles, a bell toll, the sounding of taps and release of red, white and blue balloons.
In Tupelo, the city commemorated 9/11 with a short ceremony ahead of its “Tupelo Reads: We’re All on the Same Page” event.
Members of the Tupelo Police and Fire departments, Lee County Sheriff’s Department, North Mississippi Medical Center EMTs and the military were honored, and Zierra Long sang the national anthem.
Vanderbilt University Centennial philosophy professor John Lachs, who spoke at the “Tupelo Reads” event immediately following the commemoration, said 9/11 made us all nicer to each other, and “if we could be nicer, it would be a better world.”
“It’s easy for us to think that 9/11 happened far away,” he said, “but all of us are citizens. All of us are neighbors.”