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Honoring the fallen: Memorial at the Plaza moving tribute to first responders, vets

September 12, 2013

Mike Tarpley, Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Army, plays Taps at Wednesday’s 9/11 Memorial at the Plaza. More than 100 people attended the memorial honoring law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending their country and for those who continue to serve today. (HERALD photo/Andreia Medlin)

Those of us who are old enough remember where we were and what we were doing the fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001.

A day that would change all of our lives and the lives of our progeny. Security has taken up residence in almost every nook and cranny of our lives and the feeling that our shores were secure is long gone.

But as guest speaker, Mike Meinen, U.S. Army OIF, said at the 9/11 Memorial At The Plaza Wednesday, “Americans do not cower or bow down to her enemy,” Meinen commented. “That quality is rare in the citizens of other countries.”

He also reminded those in attendance that Americans have a tendency to pull together in times of tragedy, a trait to be proud of. The bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 13, the most recent terrorist occurrence on U.S. soil, was referenced along with the embassy attacks in other countries being the most recent occurrence on U.S. soil.

Big Spring Police Department Interim Chief Phil Whitten gave a brief account of the events as they unfolded that Sept. 11 morning 12 years ago and the emotions he experienced as he watched the police and firefighters enter the burning towers.

“I was working that day,” Whitten remembered. “There was a feeling of pride as I watched the firefighters going in, then sadness and then, as the towers fell, a feeling I can't really describe.”

Whitten went on to describe the aftermath of the collapse and the search for survivors, but said his feelings soon turned to pride again as the NYFD and first responders worked together.

Big Spring Fire Chief Craig Ferguson was also working that day and commented on his experience.

“We watched it on TV all day,” Ferguson said and described feelings of shock and amazement at what was developing and gave a recount of the timeline of the attacks and said that the results of the attacks by Al Queda were deadliest for firefighters.

“We need to remain vigilant,” Ferguson said, “to keep everyone safe.”

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