Rememberances of 9/11 echo across Highland Lakes

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

Texas House Dist. 20 Rep. Terry Wilson reminds guests at the annual 9/11 Day of Remembrance that remembering the fallen does not mean a never-ending mourning but, rather, building a better future on their memory.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Ceremonies were solemn for First Responder Recognition Day Monday, Sept. 11, when Highland Lakes residents took time to remember those who fell while responding to the attack on the World Trade Center and their fellows who continue today to respond to emergencies.

At the Sandy Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, a bell cast from remains of the Twin Towers was toned at 9:46 a.m.

The bell was donated by a supporter of the SHVFD whose cousin, a New York firefighter, lost is life in the towers' collapse.

"As first responders, our volunteers want to recognize the many sacrifices made by emergency personnel and so many others on this tragic day," said Douglas Hindelang of the department.

At 10 a.m., citizens of the City of Meadowlakes gathered for the dedication of their new First Responders Memorial Park. Joe Summers, president of the Meadowlakes Property Owners Association, officiated in a ribbon cutting for a monument in the park, assisted by former Judge Ed Cutchin, the keynote speaker. In a long career dedicated to the law, Cutchin also served as a police officer.

The program also included comments from Joe Hernandez, one of a dozen Meadowlakes citizens who have become part of the Burnet County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

“We train to learn how to take care of ourselves and our neighbors in case of emergency,” he said.

In Marble Falls, the 16th Annual 9/11 Day of Remembrance was expanded to honor members of the U.S. Military who have died in the War on Terror.

The Marble Falls Noon Rotary Club that sponsors the event was joined by Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home in adding the “Remember Our Fallen” exhibit of Texas military men and women that encircled this year's event at Lakeside Pavilion.

Marble Falls Fire Chief Russell Sander sounded bell marking a symbolic “end of shift” for lost first responders as Stepphanie Black, assistant chief of the Horseshoe Bay Fire Department recounted the history of the tradition.

Keynote speaker was Texas Dist. 20 Rep. Terry Wilson, who serves on the Texas House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee. The retired U.S. Army colonel was eminently qualified for the task.

He said he had just given up his Army Ranger command in Fort Benning, Georgia and was consulting on non-contiguous battlefield strategy, ready to leave military service when airplanes hit the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

The event led to a career that did not end until 2015 and took Wilson to assignments all over the world.

He praised the new generation of men and women in the military.

“We have a volunteer army,” he said. “Since 9-11 we have never lacked for volunteers.”

The same was true of ordinary citizens who responded to Hurricane Harvey, Wilson said: “They weren't forced to help, they weren't paid to help, they saw their neighbor in need and put everything on the line to help.”

From the official first responders to military deployed to citizen volunteers, he said to date, 122,331 people and some 5,000 pets had been rescued from Harvey alone.

As he honored the Gold Star Families in the audience, families who sons or daughters had fallen in the line of military service, Wilson recalled his own friend who died in Fallujah, Iraq, and said “we are all one family.”

“Let us not forget that remembering the fallen does not mean a never-ending mourning of their loss,” said Wilson. “It means building a better future from their memory. There is no better memorial we can give to those who gave their lives fighting for our nation, than to carry on in their spirit.”

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