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Many gathered at the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9-11. More importantly, they illustrated Americans have not forgotten those that died and those who continue to sacrifice to preserve our nation and our freedom.
For Terrylynn Batson 9-11-01 was like any other day. It was a picturesque spring morning with a cool autumn breeze genlty blowing. She went into her garden to do a little gardening and when she stepped inside her house she noticed she had 44 messages on her answering machine. They were calls from family and friends who were worried about her son, Paul, who worked in the World Trade Center and was there at his desk when the terrorists crashed the first plane into the buildings.
Battson recounted her terrifying memories to an audience in Gatlinburg, Sunday morning at the Ripley's Aquarium where the city organized a 9-11 memorial ceremony.
"I turned on the TV and saw what was happening," Battson recalled. "Moments later Paul called me and told me quickly what was happeneing and said 'Mom, in case I don't make it, I love you.'"
At that moment the phone went dead and there was silence and Battson was left to wonder if she would live a parents worst nightmare, to bury her only child. What seemed like an eternity passed and Paul called back. An anguished Battson was relieved he had made it and her maternal instincts kicked in.
"I got in my car and drove 13 hours to New York to get him," Battson told the audience. "Then I drove non-stop for 13 more hours to get him back home to the safety of East Tennessee and nursed him back to health."
Battson was one of two speakers who spoke of that watershed moment in American history that has been permanently seared into the minds of anyone old enough to remember that fateful day. The event was opened by Carl Mays, a noted speaker who has spoken to more than 3,000 groups in his career. Mays discussed the events of that day and recounted the next day, Sept 12, 2001 when the United States rallied and flags were seen flying from millions of homes, cars and businesses as a show of support and to illustrate the United States was still a strong nation that would overcome this tragedy.
At 8:46 a.m., the exact hour the first plane hit the first tower, the siren from the Gatlinburg Fire Department sounded to signify the first responders who faced uncertainly and death as they ran into the towers to rescue those inside. More than 300 fire fighters died when the buildings collapsed.
After a short blast the siren died down and there was an eerie moment of silence for the dead.
Special music was provided by the Gatlinburg Highlanders Barbershop Quartet and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by the Boy Scouts of Troop 111.
Nearly every American can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that terrorists had flown airplanes into the World Trade Center causing the immense structures to collapse taking with them nearly 3,000 American lives and forever changing the world.
I remember well the events of that day watching on television as the darkest hour in American history was visited upon us. The voice of the female reporter covering the event is haunting. As the tower collapsed she broke down sobbing and began exclaiming "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"
A fireman at the World Trade Center following the attacks.
The nightmarish images of the buildings falling seemed surreal. Moments later there came a silent pause followed by a reporter who appeared to be in a state of disbelief as he said "300 firefighters are dead."
Images of Muslims celebrating in the Middle East sent shockwaves across America and likely made Muslims living in the United States very uneasy and nervous. Some Muslims living in the United States celebrated the murder of Americans in silence. Though they lived here in the land of opportunity and maintained freedom, many harbored a dark simmering hatred of the U.S.
President George W. Bush vowed "We will retaliate"
Within hours a noticably angered President George W. Bush appeared on TV to rally Americans and assure that those responsible would be punished and he vowed "We will retaliate."
The terrorists obviously believed the attacks would destroy the United States. They should have read their history books. But, then again, a majority in the Middle East and particularly Afghanistan, are illiterate. More than two out of three Afghans cannot read. But if they had been able to read they would have read that the U.S. has been attacked twice before 9-11.
The first attack was during the War of 1812 when British troops invaded Washington D.C. and burned the White House to the ground. President James Madison barely eluded capture. The U.S. rallied. Though the war ended in a stalemate, the British were dealt a humiliating defeat in the Battle of New Orleans that permanently broke the power of the British in the Northern Hemisphere forever.
The second attack came on Dec. 7, 1941, a date President Franklin Roosevelt decreed "Would live in infamy." What followed was the bloodiest war in world history with the U.S. engaging three enemies on two coasts. With the assistance of allies, the U.S. emerged victorious having destroyed the Third Reich and brought the Empire of Japan to its knees with a nuclear attack.
The terrorists never considered the iron will of the American people and the resiliency of the American spirit. The following day, millions of American flags hung from homes and businesses. At military posts and National Guard Armories across the nation, men and women of all ages came in to join. Some were too old or not fit for service. Despite this, they were prepared to volunteer and help out in any way possible. Churches of all denominations opened their doors in the middle of the week for the public to come to the Lord's house to pray for their nation.
American troops in Afghanistan
As military units mobilized and military vehicles moved down the road, men, women and children of all ages waved flags and many saluted as a sign of support.
Within days the support of American allies abroad inspired a nation. Who can ever forget the images of Americans standing outside Buckingham Palace listening as Prince Phillip directed the Royal Band to play the Star Spangled Banner. Several anguished Americans, stranded because all flights had been grounded, sang the National Anthem as the band played and many wept.
Meanwhile, the terrorist mastermind who had ordered the murder of men, women and children, Osama bin Laden, retreated into a cave, like a cowardly rat running for cover. Like his sadistic fellow conspirators, he knew retribution was coming.
Taliban mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals as he hid behind his wife.
A national memorial service was conducted and broadcast live with America's Preacher, the Reverend Billy Graham officiating. In the name of the Christian God, he asked that justice be done and that God would heal a nation. Never once did he ask that Christians engage in a Holy War, unlike the Muslim Ayatollahs who encouraged violence ordained by Allah.
Within weeks the American troops were on the ground and in Afghanistan destroying terrorism at its root. Since then, the war has taken a toll on everyone even the terrorists. The nation of Iraq, who had harbored Al Qaeda operatives was defeated and Saddam Hussein executed. Osama bin Laden was widely discredited by his own people who began to see him as an ineffectual leader who had brought tremendous wrath upon them. In his final years he holed up in a tiny house afraid to go out and scared to leave his compound. He spent his days watching porn. He was killed earlier this year when Navy Seals invaded his compound. As his room was swarmed by the Seals, Osama committed his final act of cowardice by hiding behind his wife. It did him no good.
After he was killed he was dumped into the ocean and denied a proper burial just as many of his victims had been.
A recent report circulated by the Associated Press explained the Taliban and Al Qaeda are now on the brink of collapse. The terrorists should have read up on American history before hatching their plot. they would seen it wouldn't work. America would not go quietly into the night. Our capital was burned during the War of 1812 and Americans rallied. Our Navy was wiped out on Dec 7, 1941 and we united. Our nation was attacked on 9-11 and still we prevail.
Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks on 9-11. Communities across America will hold solemn services to reflect on that terrible day. In Gatlinburg, the town will hold a service at Ripley's Aquarium. Many local churches will conduct special services to remember the fallen. I would like to encourage every American to take part in a cermony tomorrow. Do it to remember our fellow Americans who died that day. Participate to show support for our troops, past and present, and be sure to thank them for their service. Attend a service to demonstrate your patriotic pride. More than anything, take your children or grandhildren so that they will understand the events of ten years ago better. We must never forget
Old Glory hangs proudly on display at Ripley's Aquarium where a special ceremony will be held Sunday to commemorate 9-11.
Like most Americans, Terrylynn Battson, of Gatlinburg, can remember where she was and what she was doing when she heard the World Trade Center had been attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. How could she forget? Her son, Paul, was inside the WTC when he witnessed the first attack. He courageously led many of his co-workers to safety when a firefighter ordered him to "Run as fast as you can or you will die."
Paul made it out alive. Tragically, nearly 3,000 Americans died that fateful day. Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks that plunged the United States into war and forever changed the world.
To honor those that died and rememeber the events of that watershed moment in history, the city of Gatlinburg is conducting a 9-11 memorial service this Sunday, 9-11-11, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Old Glory will be prominently displayed at the plaza of Ripley's Aquarium and units from the Gatlinburg Fire Department and Gatlinburg Police Department will sound the sirens at 8:45 a.m. at the exact moment the first plane struck the WTC.
Motivational speaker Paul Mays will emcee the event and Battson will be the featured speaker recounting the events from a mother's point of view.
The event is free and everyone is encouraged to attend to show support for the military, who are fighting to preserve our freedom and security, to the emergency responders, who faced the attack head on, and to our community and our nation we hold so dear.