On Saturday, Sept. 11, the City of Pleasanton and the Pleasanton Express hosted a 9/11 20th Anniversary Memorial ceremony at the Pleasanton River Park.
The commemorative ceremony was to remember the 3,000 lives lost on 9/11 and to honor our local veterans and first responders who daily put their lives on the line to protect and serve.
Guest speakers included Pleasanton Mayor Clinton Powell, Congressman Henry Cuellar representative Maggie Morales, Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley, American Legion Commander Willie Leal, VFW Post 4853 Sr. Vice Commander Patricia Hewitt and First United Methodist Church Pastor Johnny Arrington. Special guests in attendance were Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez, Pleasanton Fire Chief Mario Escobedo, Jourdanton Mayor Robert Williams, Poteet Mayor Denise Sanchez, former Senator Pete Flores, Commander John Shipley, Poteet VFW 6970, Commissioner Stuart Knowlton, City of Pleasanton Council Member JR Gallegos, District 4, City Council Member Diana Prasifka, District 3 and Eagle Battalion JROTC Col. Chris Wynder.
The service opened with prayer by FUMC Pastor Arrington followed by the Star-Spangled Banner. Pleasanton Mayor Clinton Powell gave the welcome and opening remarks. VFW Post 4853 Sr. Vice Commander Patricia Hewitt served as the MC of the event.
“For me, 9/11 and the opportunity to commemorate it is personal,” said Sr. Vice Commander Hewitt. “I was on active duty at Fort Hood on 9/11. All I saw that entire day was a strong resolve to defend the country regardless of where it needed to happen. We were determined and awaiting orders to go do exactly what we had been trained to do our whole military career. This comes from something that is alive in every soldier, airman, marine, coast guard and our first responders, our police, our sheriffs, our constables, our fire departments and our emergency medical technicians. Because we are the ones who run toward trouble. The reason is because we feel a desperate need to be able to protect the people around us and the ones we love. We have a servant’s heart. We are willing to step out and do dangerous things so that others may sleep comfortably at night.”
The Pleasanton High School JROTC presented the Nation’s Colors. There was a presentation of wreaths for veterans, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire department, first responders and those lost in 9/11. Participants in the wreath laying included Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley, American Legion Commander Willie Leal, Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez, Pleasanton Fire Chief Mario Escobedo, Pleasanton Emergency Management Office Coordinator Philip Glass, Eagle Batallion JROTC, Commander John Shipley, Poteet VFW 6970 and representatives from Atascosa County EMS.
While speakers were giving their opening remarks about 9/11 heroes running toward trouble, Leming Volunteer Fire Department Chief Loren Gillespie and his firefighter wife Tammy Gillespie sprang to their feet and did just that after receiving a notice of an emergency in Leming. It was a testament to the day that in Atascosa County we, too, live amongst heroes. (See story on page 2A.)
See next week’s issue for a photo collage of the 9/11 Memorial Event. To view the ceremony, please go to the Pleasanton Express Facebook page.