At the 14th anniversary of 9/11 on Friday, it was difficult to imagine that it has only be 14 years. Then again, it was hard to realize it hasn’t been longer. The police and fire departments of Elon, Burlington, Graham, North Carolina and Gibsonville came together to ensure that no matter how long or short the time may feel, the nation remembers the nearly 3,000 people that were killed in the terrorist attacks.
Chief Jeff Smythe of the Burlington Police Department has been an officer for 30 years.
“The silent majority is too silent too often," he said. "As the negative national media directed toward the police comes to the forefront, we’re starting to see some folks step up and say, ‘wait a minute, we need our police.’ 9/11 is just a great reminder of that for us. “
Officer Jerry Christian, Patrolman for the Burlington Police Department, served 28 years in the United States Military prior to his work with the police. He was deployed to Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.
“It gives me a lot of thanks that I was there at the time, and maybe able to change some things in that part of the world. Now we’re here trying to help our own country [as police officers],” he said.
Officer Christian simply urge the public to continue acknowledging 9/11, “Just try to remember…we don’t really want nothing [sic] in return,” said Christian.
“The kids seem to appreciate us coming through, and as a result they are more aware of this day than the adults sometimes are.”
Officer David Carter, chaplain of Alamance County Sheriff Department:
“The kids come out wearing red, white and blue while waving flags. They make banners during art class, and they show their patriotism. They’re just really excited to see us. Really, as officers, it makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up because they are just so excited to be a part of this.”
Officer Graham Sappington, Master Police Officer, served six years in the United States Air Force prior to his current eight years of service for the Burlington Special Response Team:
“The country’s never been closer than in the days, weeks and years after September 11th. Sometimes we stray away from that, but we’re all in this together. We just got to figure that out, and maybe this parade will help that happen.”
“As we get further removed from a tragic event we tend to forget how bad it felt that day, and how we all came together as Americans — not as different types of people — but as Americans. We all held hands under one flag. If we get back to that, it’ll be nice.”
And the Elon elementary schoolers chanted, "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A."