Watertown and Wilson County leaders urged citizens to use the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a means for unity during the city’s annual Sept. 11 Remembrance event.
The event focused on remembering the lives lost and impacted by the terrorist attacks on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan served as the event’s guest speaker and praised the work of Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings and city officials for continuing to observe the Sept. 11 attack every year.
“This is an important ceremony. It’s important that we don’t forget,” Bryan said.
Bryan discussed the day and resulting impact of the Sept. 11 attacks, and said older citizens have an obligation to educate younger generations about the attacks.
“We don’t know what the future holds and never will,” he said. “It’s real important that our young ones and the next generation understands what we’ve been through and what they could have to go through.”
Bryan said the Sept. 11 attacks have shaped American society like the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 shaped previous generations. He recalled recently pumping gas and noticing a sign that are often found on gas pumps that urge citizens to call a number if they see suspicious activity.
“This made me really start thinking about how our nation has changed and our day-to-day lives have changed, how our state has changed and how these changes have trickled all the way down to right here in Watertown, Tennessee,” he said.
He said the unity and cooperation among first responder agencies was birthed following the Sept. 11 attacks.
“For many years, the federal agencies kept their information. The state agencies kept their information, and the local agencies kept their information. Nobody talked. Right after Sept. 11, I saw more and more collaborative efforts as it relates to information sharing,” Bryan said. “I’m seeing us getting away from that again. Let’s not go backwards.”
Bryan said other changes have included new tools to help law enforcement officials identify potential threats and more publicized ways for people to tip officials about suspicious activities.
“The general public is being vigilant about their surroundings and what’s going on around them. We didn’t have that before Sept. 11,” he said.
Jennings and Bryan said even after 20 years, people still remember where they were and doing when they learned about the terrorist attacks and the feelings following that moment should propel to more united times.
“Y’all see what’s going on in America today. Everybody is just a little ill. Let’s get that determination back and be one country. In the end, we are one country,” Bryan said.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto provided the opening prayer and remarks for the event.
The event also featured performances from the Watertown High School Band and Choir, as well as recognition of local first responders.