Looking back on the events of Sept. 11 is how the country can move forward, Gov. Bob Wise said at a Sunday afternoon memorial service in Cross Lanes.
"A year later we're more somber, we're more vigilant, we're more prepared and we're more united," Wise said. "We have much to remember and much to dedicate ourselves anew. "Our nation had to rise from grief, organize and pull itself together. It had to and has responded." About 100 people attended the "Remembering Our Heroes" memorial service at the Tyler Mountain Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens. Richard Bishoff, director of the Bartlett-Burdette-Cox Funeral Home in Charleston, said it was important to have a memorial service where residents could open up and remember the events of Sept. 11.
That's why directors from five area funeral homes worked for two-and-a-half months to organize the service, he said. "We wanted to honor the police and firefighters of the city and state who do their jobs day in and day out," Bishoff said. "We wanted to show them the kind of appreciation we have for them."
In his address, Wise stressed the importance of West Virginians in the war on terrorism. Two state residents, Sgt. Gene Vance and Staff Sgt. Anissa Ann Sherro, gave their lives in the war in Afghanistan, but many men and women across the state are doing their part to protect the United States, he said.
"Anytime anything happens, firefighters, EMS squads and police scramble to respond," Wise said. The governor also spoke of those who responded to the 500 false alarms involving anthrax in the state within the last year. "They don't think of themselves as heroes, but they are," he said. Elkview resident Tom Black said he appreciated Sunday's ceremony. "It's a very sobering time that our nation is faced with," he said. "I just wanted to pay my respects. The ceremony was very, very nice." In addition to Wise, others present at the service included members of the West Virginia State Police, the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department, the St. Albans Fire Department, and the St. Albans High School ROTC color guard. Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker said the service was for all Americans. "It's an honor to pay tribute to all the people who have died and are protecting our country," Tucker said. "But we're honoring all citizens. Today is a tribute to everyone." To contact staff writer Chandra Broadwater, use e-mail or call 348-5194.