Macon-Bibb 9/11 service remembers the fallen

Macon’s annual commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks came in red, white, blue -- and black.

A Macon-Bibb County firefighter carefully unfurled an American flag before joining other members of an honor guard. Two women gently draped black cloth around the monuments to fallen emergency workers in the median of Mulberry Street, near the county courthouse. Macon Mayor Robert Reichert took white gloves from Commissioner Lonzy Edwards, then pulled one on past his watch.

Launched about 9:58 a.m. -- the time the first of the Twin Towers fell in New York City -- the ceremony remembered attacks that killed civilians, police officers, firefighters, and people working in the Pentagon. The attacks began the nation’s war on terror.

“Suffer not our adversaries to triumph over us,” Rabbi Larry Schlesinger said as he remembered the fallen, including nearly 3,000 who died in the attacks.

Reichert and County Commission Chairman Sam Hart, clad in their pristine, white gloves, carried a wreath of red, white and blue flowers. They laid it down just in front of etched words -- “With honor they served” -- and the black cloth at the monuments. A white ribbon from the wreath fluttered in the breeze.

Then Macon Police Chief Mike Burns, Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins and Sheriff Jerry Modena each came forward in turn, wearing white gloves, to lay a white flower before his respective department’s monument. The fire chief wore a white-topped hat. The police chief wore a black hat.

The Rev. Ronald Terry of New Fellowship Baptist Church gave the closing prayer, invoking other images of black and white.

“Give us the understanding that evil will rage, but it will never overcome truth,” Terry prayed.

After the ceremony, Terry said the 9/11 attacks must always be remembered.

“We cannot forget, because if we forget those who died for liberty, we forget Patrick Henry, we forget George Washington, all those who died for liberty. We cannot forget. We must not forget,” he said.

Warren Selby, chairman of the Macon-Bibb Law Enforcement Foundation, said that “with any part of history, (when) you forget where you came from, you don’t honor those who made your life possible.”

Riggins said ceremonies such as Tuesday’s help bring people together, reminding them of lessons of vulnerabilities paid with sacrifices.

“The danger in forgetting is we repeat. We let our guards down, because we change what is ordinary,” Riggins said. “This is commemoration of the fact the bar has risen.”