For many years, Ruth Larson helped coordinate 9/11 remembrance events in Milledgeville and other cities across Georgia.
“I did it because I have a passion for this land,” Larson told The Union-Recorder following the latest such event held Friday morning in front of the Peace Monument adjacent to the Baldwin County Courthouse in downtown Milledgeville.
Larson, who moved from Iowa to Milledgeville back in 1978, said she felt compelled to do something to honor the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in heroic attempts to save others in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out in New York.
When 9/11 remembrance events began in Milledgeville, different groups planned their own, and it remained that away until this year, Larson said.
“This is the first year that we’ve come together to remember those killed during 9/11,” Larson said. “And I think it turned out very nice.”
Freedom Church Pastor James St. John welcomed everyone to the program.
“Thank you for joining us for this cross-denominational, nonpartisan time of prayer together,” St. John said. “Though we are facing many challenges in our nation, we can be thankful and we’re proud citizens of the United States of America. Ours is a great nation worthy of the continued investment of our time and energy through prayer. We’re not without hope. We have hope in God.”
St. John said called the Peace Monument a seat of authority and justice of this country to symbolize important issues across the nation.
“We honor, today, the first responders that 19 years ago gave their lives to assist during that crucial and terrible attack which happened In New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania,” St. John said. “And it is a day that we will never forget — Sept. 11, 2001.”
St. John said the local event was a day for Americans to reflect on the deep spiritual needs of the nation.
A number of firefighters with Baldwin County Fire Rescue and Milledgeville Fire Rescue joined officers from the Milledgeville Police Department and Georgia College Department of Public Safety to remember their fallen brothers and sisters of nearly 20 years ago.
Baldwin County Fire Chief Victor Young said, “This is the day that the Lord has made and we shall rejoice in it. On this tragic day, we lost over 2,977 people of America. We lost 343 firefighters and we lost 71 law enforcement personnel.”
Young said the day was one for everyone to celebrate their lives, but to remember the loss of lives of their comrades.
“I’d like to thank the city of Milledgeville Fire Department, the city of Milledgeville Police Department, Georgia College Department of Public Safety and Baldwin County Fire Rescue, as well as Mrs. Larson for helping make this happen,” Young said.
The county fire chief also thanked the local pastors who participated in the event, as well as several cadets from Georgia Military College Prep School, who presented the colors at the Peace Monument shortly after the event began. Larson’s daughter, Laurie Meeks, a registered nurse at Navicent Health Baldwin hospital in Milledgeville, sang the national anthem.
“Once, again, this is a day that the Lord has made,” Young said. “We’re going to rejoice. We’re going to pray together. We’re going to laugh together. And we’re going to make this day great.”
The Rev. David Luke later provided the invocation.
Luke later shared the First Responders’ Blessing.
“Lord, we cry out for divine protection, wisdom, and guidance is all they do,” Luke said. “May Christ, once again, be exalted as Savior, Healer, Defender, and Law Giver. Let your blessings be upon each one of them and their families as they perform their job in our community.”
The Rev. David Rogers provided the Prayer of Repentance.
He quoted from 2 Chronicles 7:13 -14: “And God said to Solomon, If I shut heaven that there be no rain, or if command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people … If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Rogers said everyone there came with repentance in their hearts on behalf of the local community, as well as the nation.
“For allowing pride, prejudice, violence, the sin of sex trafficking that is so prevalent now, Father, we repent for devaluing the lives of our unborn children, for the massive shedding of blood in our nation. Forgive us for allowing pornography in our homes, and the many sins that have corrupted this generation. Forgive us, Oh Lord, for not taking a stand for those silenced and disenfranchised. As Nehemiah did on behalf of his nation, we offer to you our tears of sorrow and remorse on behalf of the sins of our land. Forgive us, Oh Lord.”
The Rev. David Self, meanwhile, offered a prayer for education and restoration of campuses.
“Father, we pray for protection over the students, teachers, and employees of all our schools and universities,” Self said. “For the younger generation to embrace the mantle of prayer, righteous living and the pursuit of love and unity. We cry for purity and holy boldness to courageously stand the test that may come their way with power and victory. We ask you, Lord, to restore our campuses. Where other generations have dropped the baton, may they grasp it with their might and go forth with the Son of righteousness as their leader.”