9/11: The Highland Lakes remembers

Marble Falls Rotarians raised the American flag in a heartfelt ceremony.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

On a bright, sunny Thursday, with only fair weather clouds high in the same sky that once contained terrorists on their mission to strike at the heart of our country, Hill Country first responders, veterans, Marble Falls Rotarians and citizens together remembered the loss of almost 3,000 people thirteen years ago on Sept. 11.

At Lakeside Park in Marble Falls, near one of mainstays of American life, the swimming pool, people gathered to pay their respects to both fallen heroes and heroes who save lives every day.

Marble Falls Independent School District, with many students who were not alive on Sept. 11, 2001, paid their respects also. Every campus observed a moment of silence and kept their flags at a respectful half-staff. The 35 girls in the Lady Mustangs Varsity Middle School Choir practiced for two weeks to sing the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. Ethan Brust, Marble Falls High School senior played Taps, hidden behind a wall, stirring emotions in everyone.

It’s a moment frozen in time: Everyone remembers where they were at 7:46 a.m. CT that morning when the first plane struck. Many were unified in their emotions: confusion, disbelief, followed by anger.

Sergeant Vaughn Hamilton, Marble Falls Area EMS

Hamilton was seated at his computer and saw a photo of smoke billowing out of the first tower. He clicked away from the news story because he thought it was a prank, that it couldn’t possibly be real. Knowing he did not have a TV, his neighbors called and said, “You have to get over here.” He sat with his neighbors for several hours, “transfixed.”

“Like a lot of people, my main emotion at first was surprised vulnerability,” Hamilton said. “What didn’t seem possible on Sept. 10 was made absolutely, scary real.” He said there isn’t one lesson to be learned from the tragedy and nonstop warfare that followed. “There are innumerable lessons that have to be learned, it can’t be simplified to just one lesson,” he said.

For more photos and thoughts about 9/11, see Friday's Highlander. 

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