Ceremony Replaces 9/11 Memorial That Was Vandalized
SAN ANGELO, TX – On Friday morning, the people of San Angelo came together to rededicate the 9/11 memorial after it was vandalized last June after the steel dedicated from the Twin Towers was stolen from the memorial. Those responsible for the disrespectful act have not been arrested or identified.
The ceremony began with the San Angelo Police Department color guard displaying the colors and the singing of the National Anthem by Geneva Rodriguez.
SAPD Chief of Police Frank Carter gave the opening prayer for the ceremony.
Chief Carter said, “It’s nothing but an honor and a privilege to be asked to stand and rededicate the 9/11 memorial.”
Each U.S. flags placed on the grounds of the monument represents one of the 2,997 lives lost as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
One of those flags is dedicated to San Angelo native Judy Rowlett who died on 9/11.
“The flag contains the names of all of those who perished on that fateful day,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said. “We will never forget.”
Above: Minature flags on display. (LIVE! Photo/Cameron Niblock)
Above: Collection of U.S. flags that honors each of the 2,997 lives lost on 9/11.
San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter was the first guest speaker for the rededication.
“I think it’s important that we rededicate the 9/11 monument and that we continue to hold an annual dedication to honor and remember all of the people who lost their lives on 9/11,” Mayor Gunter said.
Goodfellow Air Force Base Wing Commander Col. Rickey Mills was also present at the rededication and spoke of the active duty and retired military members, along with all first responders and law enforcement, who continue to serve and uphold American values of safety and security for their communities.
He told the story of three children who died on 9/11. Bernard Brown, Asia Cottom and Rodney Dickens were all students from D.C. and who were visiting the Pentagon at the time of the attack.
“Each [of these children] had a life and a future that was stolen from them that day,” Col. Mills stated. “These wounds have not healed because the struggle is still upon us and peace is still uncertain.”
He added that as a member of the U.S. Air Force the fight for peace is always on his mind.
“What peace means for me, and for those who serve with me, is [the dream] of a world where Bernard, Asia, and Rodney could achieve their dreams, play games, and be with their siblings,” Col. Mills concluded.
Next to speak was Bishop Michael Pfeifer, who informed those in attendance that despite the tragedy that swept the nation on 9/11, the day should be remembered of a day of faith and not fear.
“To overcome terrorism we must pledge ourselves to be peace makers right here in San Angelo,” Bishop Pfeifer said.
Bishop Pfeifer was present for the original dedication of the 9/11 memorial on Sept 8, 2003. He blessed the new piece of steel that was rededicated by retired emergency first responder, Rosendo “Rosey” Velez, who responded to the 9/11 attacks. He was present with his youngest daughter Mira, oldest daughter Marina and wife Maria.
Mira was also acknowledged for her choice to dedicate the new steel cross from the Twin Towers to the 9/11 memorial.
Rosey Velez was the key note speaker for the 9/11 rededication, and he moved the crowd with his heart felt speech to remember the first responders who served on 9/11 by making the ultimate sacrifice to save lives.
He said the toxic exposure from the fallout is still affecting first responders to this day.
Velez mentioned in his speech that in the last 48-hours three first responders died from 9/11 related illness or cancer.
On Sept. 16 they will be among the 120 plus names being added to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City to remember those who died in 2016 from 9/11 related illnesses.
He asked those in attendance to please respect the true purpose that he, and the other first responders, fought for that day.
“These [first responders] completed the greatest rescue on U.S. soil,” Velez stated. “We got over half a million people out of the affected area. We lost some of our own, but that was our damn job; to save lives.”
The ceremony concluded with Velez honoring the members of San Angelo Police and Firefighters for their service to the community and his family.
Above: Rosey Velez thanks the SAPD and SAFD for their service. (LIVE! Photo/Cameron Niblock)
“I’ve known Rosey for a long time and he’s very patriotic, and though he may not work for a department since he retired, he still stands behind [the San Angelo police and fire departments] 100 percent,” Chief Carter stated.
With 9/11 coming up this Monday, the rededication highlights the sacrifice of those first responders who answered the call to service while also remembering those who tragically lost their lives as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.