By Ingrid Schnader
Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook and Homewood came together for a joint 9/11 memorial service at Vestavia Hills City Hall.
The service marked 17 years since nearly 3,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
“This morning we gather to pay tribute and recognize the sacrifice and service of many great Americans on a day that we must never forget – September 11, 2001,” said keynote speaker Col. Trever J. Nehls.
Nehls began his military career in 1988, and has served two deployments in Afghanistan and one deployment to Iraq. He started his speech by asking the audience to remember where they were on the morning of the attacks.
“Do you recall the days and weeks following 9/11?” he asked the crowd of police officers, firemen and community members. “I vividly remember the patriotism.”
In the 17 years since the attacks, Nehls said, he feels that patriotism has waned.
“We must ask ourselves, how are we doing as a nation?” he said. “Do we as Americans all share and possess the qualities of a patriot? Are we united or divided? Have we allowed our differences to overshadow our commonalities?”
His concern for this country, he said, is that people are diluting or redefining the core values upon which the U.S. was born – values such as self-government, equality, individualism, diversity and unity.
“I encourage you to promote the ideals our country was formed upon,” he said. “To speak with optimism and lead an effort that strives to unite all Americans in purpose. A chance to bring back the unity, patriotism and sense of family we witnessed in the days and weeks following 9/11.”
Toward the end of the service, the Vestavia Hills Fire Department performed a bell ceremony to pay honor and respect to those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.
The memorial service concluded with the playing of Taps and three rifle volleys.