Think back to the morning of September 11, 2001, and, as the Alan Jackson song asks, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” At home enjoying your morning coffee, headed to work, on a business trip? And then you heard the devastating news…a building in New York City had been hit by a plane. You may have initially thought – like a million other people – that it was a tragic accident until the second plane hit. Then a third plane hit the Pentagon. Then the fourth plane was buried forever in a field in Pennsylvania. The realization that our beloved country was under attack was evident and we were in shock.
Seventeen years ago, on Tuesday, September 10, 2002, the first ‘Honor Our Heroes’ gathering was held. Sonny Parsons, then pastor of New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, organized the dinner and program. This year’s program was just as moving as the first. ‘We’ – citizens of the United States of America – vowed we would never forget that day, the lives lost, and lives of the survivors that were changed forever. ‘We’ – the citizens of Big Sandy, Texas – haven’t forgotten and each year we come together to honor them and our local heroes.
This year’s program began with a prayer from Pastor Jerome Ellard of GCI-Big Sandy (formerly New Beginnings Christian Fellowship), posting of the colors (the American flag and the Texas flag) by Frontier Girls and Boys Troop 109, Pledge of Allegiance by Andrew and Anna McIver, and Rick and Lois Peterson leading the group singing “God Bless America.” Mayor Parsons recognized our first responders – Big Sandy Police Department, Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department, EMT’s, plus the work of the City Public Utilities Department. He praised the work of local organizations including the Big Sandy Area Lions Club, Big Sandy Rotary Club, Love Big Sandy Project, Big Sandy Ministerial Alliance/Agape House, Big Sandy Chamber of Commerce, Big Sandy Museum, Big Sandy City Council, Big Sandy Municipal Development District, ALERT Academy, and the Big Sandy Independent School District. Individuals recognized as local heroes were Wayne Davis, Donna Varnado, and Maggie Blood. (see separate articles on each)
The people we call first responders – firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMT’s, military personnel – ran toward the Twin Towers and the Pentagon that day, along with many ordinary citizens wanting to help in any way they could, and the people on Flight 93 who deliberately gave their lives to save others – THEY ARE HEROES!