As they have for the 1 7 before it, Brazoria County residents renewed their vow Wednesday to never forget the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing that day, Brazoria County Commissioner Dude Payne said. He was in commissioners’ court when former County Judge John Willy leaned over and said “there’s something going on,” Payne said.
The only other event he remembers as well is when he was 6 years old and President John F. Kennedy was shot, he said.
Now, he makes sure to attend events in solemn remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, which is what brought the commissioner to the Angleton Exchange Club’s event Wednesday morning at Angleton’s Veterans Park.
“We are here today to remember what we have vowed to never forget,” County Court-at-Law Judge Greg Hill said while speaking at the event. “Let us do so with humility, but also as proud Americans. Let us remember with prayer and thankfulness.”
The attacks led to the largest loss of life by a hostile foreign entity on U.S. soil, Hill said. It was also the largest loss of emergency responders in a single event in American history, he said.
Almost 3,000 people died from the attacks, and members of the Lake Jackson community knew some of them personally.
John Fey moved from New York to Lake Jackson in June 2001, he said. One classmate he went to elementary through high school with, Debra Marie Paris, worked on a top floor of one of the towers and died there, Fey said.
He also closely knew Lt. Kevin J. Pfeifer of the New York Fire Department and wears an FDNY shirt and hat each year to represent them, he said.
“He was one of those guys who ran into the building and never came out,” Fey said.
Fey tries to attend a memorial event each year to acknowledge the day, as he did with the City of Lake Jackson’s event Wednesday, he said.
Lake Jackson Police Detective Sgt. Kristy Carlson also had a personal connection to that day, she said.
“This day means so much to me because it changed my life forever,” Carlson said. “Tragedy can burn everlasting images in your mind.”
A roommate and friend she lived with in New York six years before the attacks was found in the debris, she said. It inspired her to join the Marine Corps, she said, and still feels the duty to ensure America and the world will never forget.
Some used the day of remembrance to thank current first responders.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander 8576 Ray Lilley and member Joseph Fuentez went to police departments including Lake Jackson, Clute, Angleton, Richwood and Freeport to give pizza to officers and first responders. Domino’s Pizza donated the food.
It’s a simple but kind gesture that shows officers they are appreciated, especially on a day like 9/11, Lilley said.
“We are recognizing the first responders,” he said. “We are actually coming out here to make sure they are recognized.”
Angleton Police Chief Aaron Ausmus felt that respect and love from Lilley’s gesture, he said.
“It means a lot to us,” he said. “They don’t do it just on 9/11. That’s the big thing about this community that’s great. They do it all the time. We are just really blessed to be in a community that thinks like this.”