Cortez City Park was speckled with myriad colors from the clothing of hundreds of residents, emergency responders, law enforcement, search and rescue, armed forces servicemen and area leaders who turned out for a ceremony Sunday to reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
From blue, to beige, to white, to blaze orange to camouflage they represented all the colors that served and sacrificed to maintain the red, white and blue on and after that day.
Don Phillips, a pastor for the Montezuma County Sheriffs Office Posse and for Dolores Southern Baptist Church, spoke about the heroic acts of ordinary citizens and emergency responders that day, encouraging the audience to look around.
These are our troopers, our police, our deputies, our firefighters, our medical professionals our heros, Phillips said to a round of applause. You may be thinking, Theyve never done anything like they did on 9/11. A day earlier, neither had those in New York. But when the call went out, they did what most needed to be done. So many of them had never been anyones hero before. They had been walking around for years with the heart of a hero beating in their chest.
Phillips encouraged the audience to look at their local emergency responders again.
You may not be able to tell from here, but they, too, walk around with hearts of heroes beating in their chests waiting to get out, he said.
Phillips told the story of Rick Rescorla, vice president of security for Morgan Stanley, who helped evacuate thousands from the World Trade Center during the attacks, ultimately perishing himself after he was last seen heading back up the stairs. He also spoke about Todd Beamer, a 32-year-old account manager on United Airline Flight 93, who reported over the phone that he and some other passengers were going to overwhelm the hijackers and steer the aircraft into the ground.
Phillips read Beamers last audible words, Are you guys ready?
Lets roll, the audience finished for Phillips.
He called for those in attendance to join public service.
U.S. Navy veteran and American Legion member Linley Leonard agreed.
This country has always been about doing for others, Leonard said. Let us put our country and our community ahead of ourselves.
Leonard said the events of 9/11 should be passed on to children and grandchildren.
Our goal collectively today is to remember those who fell on 9/11, he said. It also is our responsibility to remember those who have fallen since; or who lay in hospitals, veterans centers, bar ditches and homeless they too have served.
Leonard presented a flag folded by the the American Legion Post 75 Honor Guard to Julie Paige, a flight attendant at the time who lost friends in the attack.
A tearful Paige later said she was stunned and honored by the presentation.
Its closure for me after 10 years, she said.
Taps was played at the event, and Cortez dispatch aired a request for a moment of silence.
Agencies represented at the event include Southwest Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services, Cortez Police Department, Montezuma County Sheriffs Office, Cortez Fire Protection District, Mancos Fire Protection District, Dolores Fire Department, Ute Mountain Ute Fire Department, Pleasant View Fire Department, Colorado State Patrol, Arizona Highway Patrol, Tristate Careflight, Flight for Life, as well as K-9 and Sheriffs Posse search-and-rescue teams.
Leaders from local churches, the city of Cortez, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe also were present at the event.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council Member Manuel Heart said after the event that the Sept. 11 attacks also impacted Native Americans. He said he was in Washington, D.C., planning to attend a national tribal leaders event at the time of the attacks and spent several hours in a hotel basement.
Im thankful to the military, all our armed forces, for the freedom we have today, he said. Im thankful to the law enforcement, medical, fire departments. All of them. They took the step of saying, I will.
Reach Reid Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.