The phrase “never forget” had a heavy presence during Sept. 11 remembrance ceremonies that took place in Weatherford and Willow Park Friday morning, also known as Patriot Day in the United States.

The Weatherford ceremony — hosted by the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and city at Heritage Park — paid respect to all those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and honored local first responders.

Master of Ceremony and Weatherford City Councilmember Matt Ticzkus recalled what he felt when learning of the attacks.

“Like you, I couldn’t begin to comprehend what I was hearing and eventually what I would see on TV. Shock, fear, desperation, sorrow, anger, a full range of emotions coursed through my veins and through the veins of hundreds of millions of Americans,” Ticzkus said. “In the aftermath of 9/11, what did you feel? What did you hear? What did you see? I saw 19 hijackers take over four U.S.-based commercial airliners. Three of them hit their targets — two at the World Trade Center, one at the Pentagon — but who could forget the story of flight 93. I saw ordinary people become real-life heroes. I saw three firefighters raise an American flag amidst the rubble, I saw the rebirth of American patriotism and an unparalleled thankfulness to our first responders who put their lives on the line every day for our freedoms.

"I saw a country united, I saw a nation whose churches were full of citizens crying out to God for help and for direction. This is what we saw and we must never forget. Sept. 11, 2001, a day that we will never forget as long as we live. An unprovoked sneak attack on America, the slaughter of so many innocents, but also the rebirth of the American spirit witnessed in the bravery of rescue workers and ordinary citizens.”

Nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, including 343 firefighters and 60 police officers at the World Trade Center.

The ceremony featured the Weatherford Police Department Honor Guard and Bell Ceremony by the Weatherford Fire Department Honor Guard, the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner by the Weatherford College Jazz Band and a bagpipe closing.

Introductions were made by Weatherford Mayor Paul Paschall and the featured speaker was State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford.

“There are certain days in each of our lives that we kind of look back on and it’s just kind of that iconic moment and those moments that we shared with everybody around us in our state and our country,” King said. “The first one I remember was being in the second grade when JFK was assassinated and that’s that first moment that I saw the whole country focused in on the same moment, the same event.

"There’s only a handful of those in all our lives and they’re different for each of us based on what generation we’re with. I know for all of us here, 9/11 was one of those days and that’s why it was so appropriate for congress to issue a declaration naming today, 9/11, as both remembrance and a national day of service.”

King said those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 can be honored by giving back in public service and volunteer service.

“It’s not a new concept. I can even remember in 1961 at JFK’s inaugural ceremony where he said those words that we’ve heard repeated so many times — to not ask what your country can do for you, but to ask what you can do for your country. Again in public service and volunteer service,” King said. “Americans are a country of service. I was doing a little research and I learned that in terms of giving, we’re ranked as the most generous nation in the world. The last records I could find were from 2017, but the estimate was that adults in America, not just the kids, volunteered over 8.8 billion hours in community service just in that one year. We are a giving people and we are a people of service. The way we can honor those who died on 9/11 and others who have given for us in the past is to continue that service.”

Kind said America has the finest first responders in the world.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of turning on the TV every night and seeing the violent protests across our nation,” King said. “I’m tired of watching our police officers, our law enforcement officers, ridiculed, criticized and condemned and even persecuted and let me tell you, we have — in Parker County, in Texas and the United States — the finest law enforcement, the finest fire service, the finest first responders in the entire world.

“Let’s make a renewed commitment to never forget what happened on 9/11, whether it’s terrorists from abroad or terrorists from within, we have to practice constant vigilance and always remember those who’ve sacrificed and those whose lives were taken.”

The Rally Project and The Shops at Willow Park also united to host a 9/11 ceremony Friday morning, displaying hundreds for American flags and a Bell Ceremony by the WP Fire Department.

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