By Kelsey Keener
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Community members of Cedar City gathered in the Gilbert Great Hall of the Hunter Conference Center at SUU for a September 11 Tribute last week.
The tribute began with the posting of the colors by the SUU ROTC, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Cedar High student Thales Barnes. Corbin Iverson, an SUU student, then sang the national anthem.
Weston Bettridge, a member of the LDS Student Association, gave an invocation and Parker Hess, the SUUSA Academic Vice President, welcomed everyone in attendance before introducing Provost Brad Cook and Police Chief Darin Adams.
Cook began his remarks by recalling the events of the tragedy, as well as the reactions to it from all over the country.
“Out of the shock fear, sorrow and losses of that event, there was also a feeling of regaining something too: a re-found, shared identity, a heartfelt commitment to an indivisible nation,” he said.
Cook also reminded the audience why September 11 is an important day for America.
“Today is an important day for our nation, as we pause to remember,” Cook said. “For 364 days of the year, we can complain about the economy, questionable politicians, how people from one side of the political spectrum can’t trust the other side. But for 24 hours, we get to put that all aside and marvel at how a few brave men and women risked their lives to save others.”
He then encouraged audience members to ask: What’s right with America?
Cook answered his question, first with the larger privileges that may come to mind such as the right to vote, the right to bear arms and religious freedom. Then he mentioned simpler things.
“Let’s not forget the smaller things we might take for granted,” he said. “We are privileged to live in a country that has food and clean water, we have entire closets full of clothes, we have homes that are made of brick and glass, we don’t have armies marching through our streets, we don’t have to worry about missiles tearing through our ceilings at any given moment or soldiers rushing into our living rooms and taking our children.”
After also raising topics like the strength of America’s economy, education and the large amount of charitable giving that occurs, he concluded by telling the audience the important aspects of September 11 to remember.
“We should remember the heroic stories of men and women, who ran back into buildings to save strangers,” Cook said. “We should remember the bystanders who took action instead of idling standing by. And we should remind ourselves what is right with America. Most of all, we should remember how America stood tall when it’s freedom was threatened, and how we should never, ever, let an act of tragedy tear us apart as a nation.”
Chief Adams addressed audience members representing first responders not only in Iron County, but also across the country. He began his remarks by explaining a few of the positive things that September 11 has come to represent.
“This day, 9/11, has become a constant reminder of the evil that exists in the world,” he said. “But more importantly it represents the heart and courage, determination and sacrifice of so many men and women who gave their lives in protection of their fellow man and woman, and who sacrifice each and every day to protect their neighbors, fellow citizens and strangers from evil.”
He addressed the qualities first responders share, and asked all first responders and military in the audience to stand be recognized for their “heartfelt service and dedication.”
Chief Adams recalled his experiences during this tragedy, and discussed a trip to New York City he took a month later with other first responders to pay their respects to those who lost their lives.
“Our community rallied together to donate money to this cause, and we were able to provide a monetary donation to a widow of a young man killed at the Pentagon,” he said. “And separate checks were taken with us as we attended the funerals of two brothers in New York.”
He said his experience during that time was evident of the strong bond between first responders.
“We were welcomed with open arms, and experienced the ultimate brotherhood that exists within our profession,” Chief Adams said. “The efforts of those on this fateful day 16 years ago made a demonstrable impact on my fellow officers and I, which we won’t ever forget.”
Chief Adams concluded by thanking those who made this tribute possible and everyone in the audience for their support of first responders.
Local first responders then took to the stage to participate in reading a poem titled “We Shall Never Forget,” before Iron County Commissioner Mike Bleak made his remarks.
The tribute was concluded with a moment of silence and a performance of “Amazing Grace” by the Cedar City Pipers.