Rock Hill firefighters, police officers and city employees gathered Thursday morning for prayer at City Hall to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.
Rock Hill Fire Department Chaplain Barry Yates and Police Department Chaplain Tom Patterson offered brief remarks during the remembrance ceremony, saying that 13 years later, the families of those who lost loved ones and the people who perished should not be forgotten.
Yates prayed for strength for the families of 9/11 victims and of emergency personnel who rushed into burning buildings and dug through debris to find survivors, asking God to “remind them that their family members are why we’re here – because of courage and strength.”
He also prayed for protection over local firefighters, police officers, emergency medical responders and military personnel. Just as Thursday’s ceremony ended, Rock Hill firefighters were called to respond to a nearby vehicle fire.
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Minutes after the 911 fire call, the department took five medical emergency calls.
Rock Hill, Patterson said, is a community thankful for the people who rush to those calls for help. As a religious counselor for the Rock Hill Police Department, he reminds people that even as ugly as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and other events are, “God is still in control.”
Ceremonies like the one Thursday are important, Yates said, so that victims’ families are assured their community hasn’t forgotten their loss and their loved one’s sacrifice.
Five people at the Rock Hill ceremony raised their hands and spoke the names of those they knew who died in the attacks.
“We still have folks that are connected to that,” Yates said, “We have to keep doing this.”
A Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony is also a time to thank God for his presence, Patterson said. “This day opens dark wounds and causes all kinds of emotional trauma,” he said, but he thanked God that his “peace and grace is so real.”