Memorial honors fallen Americans
On Sunday, a small crowd of Barry Countians gathered on the square in Cassville for a special memorial in remembrance of the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
"This is the eighth Sept. 11 memorial we had held," said Janice Varner, Barry County collector, who organized the event. "We are gathered to remember a terrible day in our country's history and those who lost their lives in the attack."
Varner invited all of the veterans, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officers in attendance to gather on the Barry County Courthouse lawn.
After Southwest Area Career Center JROTC members Mitchell Cooper, Kendal Cooper, Anthony Benavidez and Nicholas James, instructed by Lt. Col. Maella Lohman, presented the colors, the Cassville High School choir, directed by Mary Richmiller, performed the "Star Spangled Banner."
Those in attendance were invited to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and Mark Pry, American Legion Post #118 vice commander, offered the opening prayer.
CW4 Kirk Little, United States Army, gave a timeline of terrorist events that led up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He also recounted the number of lives that were lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
According to Little's presentation, 1,402 individuals perished in World Trade Center tower one, and an additional 1,614 people died when the second tower collapsed.
The attacks in New York City also claimed the lives of 343 firefighters and paramedics, 60 police officers and 125 civilian military personnel.
"The Global War on Terrorism has claimed the lives of 6,234 U.S. soldiers," said Little. "Those individuals were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Those soldiers fight for our freedoms, not for money, because they only make $30,000 or $40,000 per year while working 24 hours a day in all types of conditions," said Little. "Many of them are stationed at outposts with no running water or electric, and their daily routines include suicide bombers and the constant threat of death.
"I want to remind you not to just remember these soldiers on special days, but to honor them daily," said Little. "Remember those who have given their lives and those who continue to fight for our freedom. They are real heroes, and we need to let them know that they are not forgotten."
The memorial event also offered a special address by Teresa Stark, of Monett.
"As I watched the cadets present the colors, I recalled how the tragedy on that day in 2001 changed our nation," said Stark. "I remember people running panicked. I remember the dust haze in the air. I remember people jumping from skyscrapers."
Stark read the names of the two Missourians who were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. She also read the names of 11 soldiers from southwest Missouri who have died since Sept. 11, 2001. The final name she read was that of her son, Christopher Stark, 22, of Monett, who died in Afghanistan on Feb. 28.
"Eleven individuals, both men and women, have been lost as a result of 911 and serving our country through Operation Freedom," said Stark. "Two more Missourians were in the World Trade Center when it collapsed. Thirteen people just from our local area. A total of 130 Missourians have died serving our country in the last 10 years."
Stark concluded her address by reading the poem "Don't Grieve For Me." She also announced that two flags, one bearing the names of the individuals killed during the attacks and the other displaying the names of the service individuals who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, will be on display in the Barry County Courthouse.
"Look at these flags and remember Sept. 11 and what it means to our country," said Stark.
The memorial ended with a performance of "God Bless the USA" by Steve Arnold and "Taps" by Southwest Area Career Center JROTC members David Schofield and Levi Boxley.