09/12/11 — Church marks Sept. 11

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Church marks Sept. 11

By Gary Popp
Published in News on September 12, 2011 1:46 PM

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Brenda Garner wipes away a tear at Faith Free Will Baptist Church's 9/11 flags memorial site during the church's 9/11 Never Forget Ceremony, one of several county events marking the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

Nearly 300 American flags blanketed the lawn of Faith Free Will Baptist Church Sunday as members and visitors marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A fire engine from Dudley Volunteer Fire Department was parked nearby with its 75-foot ladder fully extended. At the end of the ladder a large American flag waved back and forth in the breeze.

Men and women of the congregation gathered after the Sunday service to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and the loved ones left behind.

"Amazing Grace" played on bagpipes as the hundreds in attendance observed a moment of silence.

The silence was broken only when the large group proudly sang in unison "God Bless America."

"It was all very touching to me," said Chigozie Umeofia, a 15-year-old student at Charles B. Aycock, "I almost thought I would cry."

Chigozie, who was at the memorial service with his family, said when he thinks of the tragedy that occurred 10 years ago, he becomes more appreciative of the things in his life.

"I feel blessed I get to live with my family. I should be thanking the Lord my family is intact," Chigozie said.

While only a child during 9/11, he said he has learned from that day not to take anything for granted.

"I know I didn't have any relatives who were in the mix of it, but I can put myself in the shoes of the victims and be thankful."

Tiffany Chavez, 25, whose husband is an airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, said Sept. 11 has special significance to her.

"Being a military wife, 9/11 takes on a whole new meaning. Not only will I never forget what happened, but I will always remember what we continue to fight for -- to keep our freedom," Mrs. Chavez said.

While people across the country used the 10th anniversary as a time to recognize what happened on that fateful day, to Mrs. Chavez that is not enough.

"You shouldn't just take time to remember once a year, you should take time to remember every day," she said.

Airman First Class Adam Brunner was one of many active-duty personnel who came Sunday dressed in their church clothes.

"It kind of makes you angry," Brunner said of his feelings when he thinks of the attack on the United States.

Like others, Brunner said it is important to take time to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"If you forget what happened on 9/11, it would kind of be like if you forgot what our country was built on," he said.

The 20-year-old, who signed up for service two years ago, is prepared to fight to protect what many of those died for on 9/11 and since.

"It really makes you appreciate what we have," Brunner said.

Capt. Richard Davis, an airman who has been stationed at SJAFB for two years, took part in Sunday's ceremony dressed in a flawless, blue uniform.

"This is definitely an emotional time to recall what happened 10 years ago," Davis said. "It is hard to believe 10 years have gone by."

Davis, 29, said it is not only respectful to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11, but remembrance is also for the betterment of the country.

"We should keep that day in the forefront of our mind," Davis said. "It was a huge impact on our nation, and we should learn from that and not become complacent.

"If we are not careful to look back on that day, we could quickly forget the many men and women who lost their lives."

Davis said he is privileged and humbled by the opportunity to serve his country.

"I am nothing special," he said. "Plenty of people can do my job. God has blessed me to do this for the United States."

Davis said he receives inspiration by the actions of those on 9/11.

"The civilians who acted on the that day, who never signed up for that, and the firefighters -- they are the true heroes."