By Jim Schroeder
Bill and Patsy Hedges came early to the Havre Fire Department's 9/11 ceremony this morning to honor the Americans who lost their lives a year ago.
The couple said they felt a close tie to the firefighters who died when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Their son, Tim Hedges, is a Havre firefighter.
"I have mixed feelings," Bill said. "It's a day to remember, a day of prayer.
"Today," he added, "I am proud to be an American."
Patsy said she's concerned about the future.
"I'm still worried about the news about the threats and it makes me uneasy about what could still happen," she said.
The Havre Fire Department and St. Jude's Church both hosted events this morning in remembrance of 9/11. Other observances were scheduled for later in the day, including a ceremony outside the Hill County Courthouse.
The fire department ceremony, attended by about 100 people, began with the "Four Fives," a ringing of bells used whenever a firefighter has died in the line of duty.
The bells rang at 8:05 a.m., the time the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. Then an American flag was lowered to half-staff. The ceremony closed with a repeat of the "Four Fives" nearly a half hour later in remembrance of the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 a.m.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice talked to the crowd about how 9/11 has changed American lives.
"As Americans we will triumph over this evil," Rice said at the end of the speech. "You can kill America, but not Americans."
Fire Chief David Sheppard honored the 60 New York police and Port Authority officers and 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11 by reciting "A Firefighter's Pledge."
"It's been said that the greatest gift a man can give is to lay down his life so that others may live," Sheppard said. "May we never forget those who sacrificed their lives and may we hold a special place in our hearts for those whose sacrifice is yet to come."
Rawlie Hutton, pastor of Fifth Avenue Christian Church, talked about courage and one man of courage, Charlie Boswell, who lost his vision after stepping on a land mine in World War II. Boswell challenged pro golfer Jack Nicklaus to golf at night.
"Today I met a person who didn't allow fear to control their lives," Nicklaus said after the match, according to Hutton.
Hutton also told a story of New York's fire chief of special operations Ray Downey, a father of five and the most decorated firefighter in his department.
"He spoke about the funerals of three beloved firefighters: You say to yourself "Not me," but when the unexpected happens, there's nothing you can do about it,' When the second tower collapsed, Downey disappeared," Hutton said. "Today, Father, be with us to remember those who have fallen."
Hutton concluded his speech with " A Fireman's Prayer"
Fifteen-year-old Keelie Solomon sang, "There You'll Be" and Rice concluded the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Nearly 200 children and 50 adults were at St. Jude's for a prayer ceremony in remembrance of the victims of 9/11.
The service opened with seven prayers and the lighting of candles. For each prayer a candle was lit by one of St. Jude Thaddeus School's eighth-graders.
The parochial school's 200 students then took part in giving food offerings to Sister Judith Maender's ministry to the needy.
The students carried their offerings to the front of the church and gave their offerings before being blessed by Sister Judith, kindergarten teacher Mary Louise McShane or school secretary Darla Johnstone.
Many of the students also brought nine dimes and 11 pennies for the offering, which will also be given to the needy, middle grade teacher Alma Seidel said.
The offerings are for people of the Havre area who need immediate help. Sister Judith's ministry also works with the Salvation Army and other local organizations.