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East Texans commemorate 9/11 with memorial ceremony in downtown Tyler

“Let’s never lose faith in the people who wear the boots.”
Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 9:47 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - On September 11th, Tyler residents reflected on the nearly 3,000 lives lost 20 years ago in the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil during a ceremony in the downtown square.

The Smith County Commissioners Court passed a resolution this week making today a national day of service and remembrance to honor the people who died that day, as well as a tribute to those who rose to serve their country in any way.

On Saturday, community officials, first responders, veterans, service members, and families gathered in the downtown Tyler Square to commemorate those who died that day and the decades following the war in Afghanistan.

Not long after sunrise, the American flag was lowered to half-mast while Tyler PD Officer John Weaver played “Taps” on his trumpet.

East Texas leaders and officials spoke of gratitude and honor as they led the ceremony with their own stories of what happened that dreadful day. Tyler Police Chief Jimmy Toler said he remembers the day and weeks that followed 9/11 vividly. He added that he’s thankful to be standing where he is today to honor those lost.

“It [the ceremony] allows us the opportunity after 20 years to fulfill that promise that we made, that we’d never forget the sacrifices made that day,” Toler said.

Along with the chief of police, several other officials gave remarks including City of Tyler Fire Chief David Coble, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith, County Judge Nathaniel Moran, and State Rep. Matt Schaefer. At the ceremony, Schaefer called out to the crowd for anyone who also served in Afghanistan and he saw that he was one of the only veterans of that war present.

“So let me speak on behalf of them, Schafer said. “We have some very strong emotions right now about what’s happened this year, but regardless of what decisions are made by the suits, let’s never lose faith of the people who wear the boots.”

The last to speak was U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, who said he wishes he felt the unity he felt shared back then here today.

“Twenty years ago tomorrow, right here,” Gohmert recalled in his remarks, “We prayed together. We sang hymns together; we were one people that day.”

The crowd joined in singing “God Bless America,” and the voices that sang together Saturday ranged from all ages. First responders brought their children and students from the Grace drum corps lined the front of the ceremony.

Gohmert spoke directly to younger generations who might not have been alive to remember the impact that time has on service members and the nation.

“It’s like anything you inherit, if you don’t fight for it ... evil people will take it away,” Gohmert said. “They hoped within 20 years, America as we knew it would be gone, but we’re still here thanks to those willing to stand up and fight.”

Gohmert added that we must remember to be grateful to our service members and our first responders even outside of tragedy and that it’s because of people like those who ran toward the chaos on 9/11 to help, that Americans live as freely as we do today.

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