As they spoke, the officials were flanked by the engraved names of Alabama men and women who fought and died for their country.
“We learned that day that terrorists weren’t just in jungles in Somalia and in places we know about,” said Ken Rollins, the vice chairman of the Centennial Memorial Committee, in his introductory speech. “We learned it’s in our own homes.”
Rollins speech echoed a theme throughout the day’s proceedings about the importance of never forgetting not only the Sept. 11 attacks, but about the everyday sacrifices made by those in uniform to their communities and country.
“They serve you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through holidays and through hot and cold to keep you safe,” said Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge after asking all law enforcement officers in attendance to stand to be recognized. “The thin blue line represents freedom, and us being able to go home at night and know we’re safe and protected.”
Meanwhile, another ceremony was planned for noon in Jacksonville’s city cemetery, where a monument stands to Army Maj. Dwayne Williams. Williams, a native of Jacksonville, was killed in the attack on the Pentagon.
Rollins and Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson, the chairman of the Memorial Committee, took the opportunity at the Anniston event to display plans for four new monuments at the park to honor firefighters, law enforcement officers and troops who fell in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rollins said after the ceremony the committee had raised more than $13,000 so far for the new memorials.
When complete, the memorials will join the other monuments in the park dedicated to Alabama soldiers who fought and died in the Korean War, Vietnam War and both world wars.
Among the names engraved into the walls at the park, is that of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s only uncle. Strange delivered the keynote speech today.
“His birthday was the Fourth of July,” Strange said of his uncle, who died before he was born in World War II. “So I didn’t need fireworks or celebrations to understand the cost of freedom, all I had to do was look into my mother’s eyes.”
Strange’s speech was followed by a ceremony by the Alabama State Troopers, Anniston and Oxford police departments, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and Oxford and Anniston fire departments. The Sheriff’s Office performed a three-volley rifle salute.
Other speakers at the event included Anniston fire Chief Tony Taylor, Anniston police Capt. Shane Denham, Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson and Alabama state Rep. Steve Hurst of Munford.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.