An afternoon of remembrance, ceremony and compassion marked the 9/11 anniversary this year in Tishomingo.
Nonprofit INCA-RSVP held a presentation at the Chickasaw Community Center in Tishomingo, inviting speakers to recognize first responders and veterans as well as commemorate those who lost their lives in the attack.
INCA-RSVP Director Wanda Gray welcomed the audience and recognized veterans for their service.
“Throughout history our veterans have put their lives on hold and at risk to protect our country,” Gray said. “Many had to endure hunger, loss, pain and desperation, but they still fought with a purpose, willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.”
Gray also thanked first responders, noting the hundreds of emergency workers that lost their lives while responding to the terrorist attack.
“The contributions that firefighters, police officers, emergency medical services and emergency management make in our communities is all too familiar to us,” Gray said. “These first responders define courage here on the home front.”
The service included several ceremonies, such as the striking of the four fives, which honors fallen firefighters, a wreath ceremony honoring the dead and a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony, performed by Krista Carroll with the Johnston County 4-H club. Carroll said Rear Admiral Wesley Hull, director of the Greater Southwest Historical Museum, another speaker, introduced her to the ceremony years ago.
“I am so thankful that he took the time to share the ceremony with me,” Carroll said. “While often the ceremony is held at large military venues and events with servicemen and women on a much grander scale, we’ll share with you today the simple but significant symbolism regarding the POW/MIA table.”
The ceremony entails setting a place at a small table for the missing with a white tablecloth, a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon, a plate holding a slice of lemon and salt, a lit candle, a wine glass placed upside-down on the table, a flag and a bible. The table symbolizes the missing and remembrance of them, the tablecloth symbolizes purity, the rose in a vase symbolizes the lives of the missing and the ribbon symbolizes determination. The lemon represents the bitterness of the missings’ fate while the salt symbolizes tears and the inverted glass reflects the missing’s inability to partake in today’s toast, the lit candle symbolizes hope and a guiding light to help the missing and captured find the way home.  
Next, Oklahoma Speaker of the House Charles McCall talked about the all too common way people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the attack and individual accounts of heroism, like Timothy Stockpole, a New York City Fire Chief who died in the attack.
“They showed the great character and bravery of our people and demonstrated our resolve to the world,” McCall said. “We also saw our nation united in compassion as Americans as we came together to find relief and bring hope to others.”
McCall also talked about the nearly 7,000 Americans that have lost their lives in the ensuing conflict, and the hundreds of first responders that have since passed away due to exposure to the noxious conditions at Ground Zero.
Next, Hull took the stage, guiding the audience through a point-by-point breakdown of the events leading up to the attack and its place in history. For the many children in attendance that weren’t alive to experience 9/11 and the start of the war firsthand, it was a history lesson.
“The physical and symbolic void left by the destruction of the Twin Towers was filled on Nov. 3, 2014, with the opening of One World Trade Center, a 776-foot skyscraper, which instantly became a dramatic landmark on the Manhattan skyline,” Hull said. “Adjacent are the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, completed in 2011 and 2014 respectively.”
He recited the quote inscribed of the memorial, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”