Citizens join together for 9-11 tribute
Rain didn't dampen plans to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States. Instead, Monday's 9-11 Memorial Rally Around the Flag Pole was moved inside to the old courtroom at the Barry County Courthouse in Cassville.
Rick Clowers, an area probation officer, opened the ceremony by asking the audience to remember where they were on Sept. 11, 2001. He then recounted the time line of that fateful morning when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
"This act of terrorism may have damaged the steel of buildings, but they can't damage the steely resolve of the American people," Clowers said.
A prayer was offered by 2nd Lt. Shawn Moreland, chaplain with the HHC 203rd Engineering Battalion based in Springfield. The young National Guardsman, who served for a year in Iraq, also offered his thoughts on the tragedy during a brief speech.
"We will never forget where we were on 9-11, and some people ask 'where was God on 9-11?'" Moreland said. "I guess another question would be, where are the people of God when it hurts.
"In times of crisis, we turn to our spiritual roots, and it is then we know where God is," Moreland continued. "God is in the presence of His people. These are moments when we take courage and find inspiration."
Also addressing the crowd was Cassville Mayor Jim Craig, who acknowledged the active duty soldiers and veterans in attendance at the rally and urged the community to stand behind its military personnel, its police officers, its firemen.
"These are the people who provide us with the kind of life we enjoy," said Craig.
The standing-room only crowd also listened to the youthful voices of the Cassville High School Centerstage Choir, which sang "This Land is Your Land" and "God Bless America." Carrie Beck also performed, singing "God Bless the USA" against the backdrop of a United States flag.
The memorial service ended with a flag presentation and three-rifle volley, performed by members of the Korean War Veterans Administration Honor Guard based in Branson, and the playing of "Taps" by Rocky Mills.
Janice Varner and Vicki Easley were pleased with this year's 9-11 Memorial event, which is the fifth the two women have organized.
The first rally was held on Sept. 14, 2001, and was organized in a day's time. Each fall, the two women have felt compelled to continue the observance so that the Barry County community will not forget the 9-11 tragedy.
"We want to keep the memory of this alive in people's minds," said Varner. "If we just let this slide, if we forget, then our freedoms will slide with it."
Easley believes 9-11 is as significant a date in U.S. history as the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
"We were attacked on U.S. soil and the tragedy is all the civilians that were killed," said Easley, who also sees the rally as a way of showing support for President George Bush and the U.S. military.
"This event shows that we support them and shows that we do care," said Easley.
Each year, the women discuss whether or not they will continue to hold the rally, and each year, the decision is the same.
"When the time comes around, it feels like something that needs to be done," Easley said.
The people who attend the memorials each year also inspire the women to keep the tradition going.
"I just appreciate the people turning out for it," said Varner. "I was very pleased with the crowd that gathered this year."
"I hope that people will continue to come, and each year, instead of dwindling, I hope it will grow," Easley added.