Eyes glistened at the 9/11 Tribute hosted in the Hunter Conference Center on Monday. The event opened with the posting of the colors by SUU ROTC and a prayer for the safety of all first responders. Provost Brad Cook then spoke, reminding everyone of the reasons to have pride in our country.
“We’ve made it through a depression, a recession, a civil war, world wars, oil shocks, terrorist attacks and we’re still standing,” Cook said. “In fact, we’re not just standing: we’re standing tall.”
Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams followed Cook, opening up about his reaction to the devastation on September 11, 2001.
“My thoughts quickly shifted to my fellow first responders in those affected areas and their safety and security,” Adams said. “I prayed for their safety and hoped that there would be no casualties. However, knowing the dangers that exist within our profession, I knew that would not be the case. My heart grew heavier as the towers collapsed and further details emerged surrounding the devastation in Pennsylvania and Virginia.”
Adams began relating a story of visiting New York City later that month with Iron County Commissioner Mike Bleak, who was an officer with CCPD at the time, along with other officers.
“This trip was a remarkable experience, suggested and brought to fruition through the vision and passion of commission and also corporal Mike Bleak,” Adams said. “Our community rallied together to donate money to this cause. We were able to provide a monetary donation to the widow of a young man killed at the pentagon, and separate checks were taken with us as we attended the funerals of two brothers in New York.”
A feeling of reverence and respect filled the room as Bleak expanded on this story in his own speech. He talked about how community actions, including that of a young boy donating the entire contents of his piggy bank to the cause, gave them a feeling of solemnity as they represented Cedar City in New York.
Bleak still keeps cards from the funerals they attended in his cabinet as a reminder of what he felt. On the back of one of these cards is a poem written by the wife of a first responder who lost his life. Many eyes filled with tears as he read the poem. Here is an excerpt from that poem:
Pete was a person that was larger than life
I am so blessed and proud to be his wife
My heart was not the only one that broke on that day
It broke so many other hearts, too numerous to say
My hope is for that Peter is now safe and sound
But we wish we had his presence back here on the ground
The hero he will be to all of us here
So goodbye I must say to you with a tear
The tribute concluded with a prayer and the playing of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes by the Cedar City Pipers.