BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The young voices of the student choirs from Simmons Middle School and Hoover High School filled the Preserve fire station on a sunny September 11th morning.
They gathered with Hoover's mayor, first responders, veterans and citizens to commemorate the day, and hear from those who lived through it.
“Let us remember that these folks are still living with this each and every day. A lot of people wake up every morning thinking about what happened and the impact it had on them, the city, the country. It is right for us to come here today and to honor each and every one of those that died and those that are living today with the trauma that went on that day,” said Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato.
Bill Paracca was one the veterans in attendance. He remembers the day vividly. Like many Americans once he heard of the attacks that killed 2753 people, he ran to a TV, and stayed transfixed watching history unfold on the news, cancelling everything else he had planned for the day.
“I was frightened, I was overwhelmed, i was angry, all the emotions a person could have,” explains Paracca.
He hopes ceremonies like this will keep the younger generations connected to the events of that day 18 years ago, and to the legacy and sacrifices of those who came before them.
“I am most concerned about the fact that most of the generation that we have today doesn’t even know anything about the legacy of our warriors, our military, our firefighters, our first responders. Unless these kinds of events take place that’s going to be a lost legacy in our country’s history,” says Paracca
Among those killed that day 18 years ago, were 343 firefighters. A fact that brings Fire Chaplain Joey Harbarger to tears.
“If we’re old enough to remember that day, then we remember the exact moment. It’s important every year to take time to pause and remember what this day truly means to each of us and our country,” said Harbarger.
For the students in attendance, and the whole generation that is learning about the attacks in history class, Paracca had a message.
“I would like to tell them to ask questions, don’t just be satisfied with what’s happening right now in their lives. Have desire to find out what legacy was left for them to build on and how can they be a part of making the future better not just for them, but also for those who come after them. If we aren’t aware of where we came from, we will never be aware of how important it is to be a light for others in the future, and help to inspire and encourage other people,” said Paracca.