By Aaron J. Derton
Firefighters, police and public servants gathered at San Marcos City Hall today to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Citizens gathered as police dispatcher Karen Zavala sang the national anthem. Men and women wearing the uniform of San Marcos Fire and Police Departments stood at attention, saluting the flag that flew over city hall on Sept. 11, 2001, now at half-mast.
A peaceful silence fell over the crowd as Mayor John Thomaides stepped up to the podium. Only the sound of cars passing on the highway, and the soft clanging of the flagpole were heard.
In his first September 11th address as mayor, Thomaides called on citizens to take inspiration from the first responders of that day 16 years ago.
“Today, look within. Set your intention, and decide to serve. Dedicate your service as a tribute to the victims, the survivors and the heroes of 9/11.” said Thomaides.
Five measured rings, a pause. Five measured rings, another pause. Five more rings sound off. The tolling of the bell signals the death of a firefighter. In this case, 343. These first responders died as they ran into the burning husks that once stood as a proud symbol of American pride.
Chris Adams, a retired Air Force Major General, spoke after Mayor Thomaides. General Adams recounted the story of his friend, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Birdwell, who was on the second floor of the Pentagon when an airplane crashed into it. Birdwell was injured, but survived.
“In 2010, he decided he had more service to do. He ran for state senator and was elected…and Brian continues to serve like most people do who were out there in the first place to serve their country and do their duty.” said General Adams.
These brave men and women remind us that Americans have a limitless capacity for overcoming new challenges every time we look at our first responders from Sept. 11, 2001.
Featured image by Aaron Derton.