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Cornelius News

Thoughts on 9-11 at the ‘Never Forget’ monument from Mayor Washam

Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam at the 9/11 Anniversary Ceremony / Photo by Jason Benavides

Sept. 11. [Text of a speech given this morning by Mayor Woody Washam] The events of 9/11 are forever etched in our minds and hearts. The Cornelius Never Forget 9/11 Monument, which includes a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, is our way to honor the first responders, citizens, and military personnel affected by Sept. 11, 2001, and to educate future generations about today’s circumstances in our nation’s history.

This 9/11 memorial has been recognized twice since its original revealing in 2016 by the North Carolina Recreation and Parks Association’s Arts and Humanities Award. The Town of Cornelius Never Forgets 9/11 Monument is recognized as an innovative visual arts piece based on humanities projecting content, innovation, and contribution to community service.

22 years later, wounds feel fresh

For many of us who remember Sept. 11, it’s difficult to process that 22 years have passed since the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.

Yet, some moments remain so clear and painful that the wounds feel fresh. There are many ways to remember 9/11 around your community and nation, including volunteer projects, moments of silence, 5K memorial runs, and stair climbs. In the Town of Cornelius, our memorial honors the sacrifice of first responders, civilians, military heroes and veterans of 9/11 and post-9/11 wars.

So much has changed in our nation, Town, and personal lives over the past 22 years.

Time to reflect

This Sept. 11 has caused me to silence the world around me to reflect on the evolution of our country and myself since 2001. You, too, might find this reflection meaningful. In the days and months that followed, I sensed a coming together of people in North Carolina and across the country. It seemed that the terrorist attacks helped us appreciate and even lean on each other in a time of national tragedy.

As the years passed, that coming together waned and gave way to sharper tongues and extreme political divisiveness. More than ever, making the memorial extremely important to our younger population.

Duty to country, one another

As the columns of stone embrace the steel, how can you not help but feel a duty to the country, a commitment to serve, and most importantly, our love of each other?

Ultimately, this memorial reminds our residents, our children, and those who visit our town of the real sacrifices and dedication of first responders and military who run toward life-threatening danger even as other persons run away.

So many lost

Lest we forget, the 37 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers. The 23 New York City police officers, the 343 New York City firefighters, the eight emergency medical technicians, and one fire patrolman who gave their lives in service to others on that day, as well as the countless military personnel who sacrificed their lives in the following wars.

Twenty-two years later, the same sense of sacrifice and dedication is embodied in the young people who sign up to serve in the military or patrol as a police officer, put on bunker gear as a firefighter, and render aid as an emergency medical technician on the streets of our towns and in service to our country.

We pause to acknowledge our Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen and national guardsmen who recently made the ultimate sacrifice attempting to protect American citizens and our Afghanistan partners during our withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

Never forget

May their surviving families find comfort in that we, as a nation and citizens of the Town of Cornelius and Mecklenburg County, will never forget their selfless sacrifice and duty to service.


—Woody Washam is the mayor of Cornelius