About 150 community members and first responders gathered to show respect in Mt. Juliet last Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The Remembrance Ceremony took place at the clock tower on North Mt. Juliet Road in a grassy triangle lined with American flags under bright blue skies.
The somber event was planned by the Mt. Juliet Police Department and the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet and was purposely devoid of pomp and speeches. Rather, the short ceremony was planned as a time to respectfully salute the thousands of citizens and first responders who died that day and to honor current first responders.
“Twenty years ago, we promised to never forget,” MJPD Chief James Hambrick quietly told the Wilson Post. “And we have not.”
Hambrick stood straight the entire ceremony. Twenty years ago, he was chaplain at MJPD. He had worked the night shift, had gotten home and just laid down.
“I saw what was happening, and I said, ‘Oh my God!” he said. “I remember during that terrible time how the nation came together. I pray today we can again come together in that way – without tragedy. The unity that came out of that horror. Twenty years later I hope we can recapture that.”
Following a moment of silence, three wreaths were carried by emergency service officials who marched in from a side entrance of the field. Each group set up the wreaths at the base of the clock tower.
MJPD Cpt. Tyler Chandler said that the three wreaths represented the police, firefighters and the military.
“We wanted this to be a solemn and simple ceremony out of reverence and for personal reflection and remembrance,” Chandler said. “We encouraged people to bring flowers to lay at the base of the wreaths.”
Chandler was a 15-year-old student at Mt. Juliet High School on the day of the attacks 20 years ago.
“I was in my health and science class,” he said. “We were all watching what was happening on the television. My mom ended up picking me up that day.
“The only good that could possibly come out of something so terrible was people gathered together as one.”
Many attendees brought flowers to place next to the wreaths. Michele Trivett, the wife of District 2 City Commissioner Bill Trivett, gripped a bouquet of red, white and blue flowers prior to the ceremony. They were there with their son, Caleb, 6.
FDMJ Chief Jamie Luffman, along with Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Edwards, carried one of the big wreaths to the clock tower.
“I can go right back to that moment of being so scared and angry,” said Luffman of the day of the attacks. “Nobody has the right to change the world that way.”
He said that his son, Josh, then 2, shouted “plane” every time he saw one fly overhead.
“I was so intensely emotional watching the coverage, my wife told me to turn off the TV and go outside with Josh and swing him,” Luffman said.
A plane flew over and Josh pointed and said, “plane.”
“My heart broke,” Luffman said. “I said to myself, not today son, not today.”