Wednesday marks 18 years since a day Americans wish they didn’t have to remember, but one they will never forget.
Community members, public safety officers and elected officials all gathered outside the Franklin Police Department for a memorial service remembering those lost in the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and honoring police and firefighters for the work they do to protect their communities every day.
After raising the American flag to half-mast and pledging allegiance to the symbol, Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner addressed the silent, thoughtful crowd.
“The images of 18 years ago are forever etched in our minds,” she said. “It’s important that we take a moment to remember the thousands of people who lost their lives that day and the heroes who tried to save them. We remember the twin towers, a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. We also remember the men and women who left for war following this brazen attack on our country. These tragic events changed our lives forever.”
Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey shared about his visit to New York City over the summer, where he read a poignant verse from the ancient Roman poet, Virgil, placed within the 9/11 Memorial: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
“We also remember that hate will not and shall not have the final word. Love and light will,” Stuckey said. “Remember those words from the Gospel of John: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ We remember.”
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore reaffirmed these words, stressing the importance of passing down the story of 9/11 to future generations.
“As I’ve looked around the audience and see many of the children here that weren’t born then, it’s our duty to make sure they understand what happened that day and how it changed our country forever, how it changed each and every one of us,” he said. “We’re still experiencing the effects of that day 18 years later.”
He added that everyone should remember the gravity of every minute in the line of duty for first responders, even today.
“Let our first responders be an example and a reminder,” Moore said. “Every day, they train not knowing what will happen when they take a call. Every day, they don’t think about being brave; that’s just their training, and that’s who they are.”
Faulkner explained, after 9/11, everything got a little more complicated. On top of the many new laws and regulations implemented after the attacks, local public safety agencies have worked even harder every day to ensure the safety of their communities.
“We had SWAT officers on the roof of this building. I had undercover officers across the street,” she said. “Every special event, where we have dignitaries and citizens gathered together and the public knows it, we make sure we are protecting those who protect and our innocent citizens.”
Deputy Chief of Operations at the Franklin Fire Department Glenn Johnson signaled the tolling of the bells, a tradition reflecting an old means of communicating the death of an on-duty firefighter via the telegraph: three sets of five measured dashes.
“Today, we continue this fire service tradition as a sign of honor and respect for all the emergency responders who made the ultimate sacrifice to their community and to their country on Sept. 11, 2001,” he said.
And the bells rang.
As the country still experiences the ripple effects of this tragedy nearly two decades later, Faulkner suggested this day stands as a symbol of America’s strength.
“The whole world witnessed how the American spirit is both resilient and relentless,” she said. “Our faith carried us through one of the saddest days in American history, and we shall never forget. May God continue to bless us, the city of Franklin and the United States of America.”