Members of the Johnson County Commissioners Court on Monday delivered proclamations addressing Sept. 11 Remembrance Day, Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month and Antique Alley.
“Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?” Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon said. “I can tell you exactly where I was. I received a telephone call from my wife that day after the first plane hit the twin towers.
The heartbreak and remembrance of that event, Harmon said, will and should never be just another day.
“It changed everyone’s lives,” Harmon said. “I always thought that we live in a nation that no one’s big enough to attack us. But a small group of terrorists did on our own soil. That really woke America up that we are vulnerable to the terrorists and not to ever take for granted that we’re not.
“But, we did bond together, unifying our country in an outpouring of national spirit, pride and selflessness.”
Harmon spoke of the 2,977 lives lost in the attacks including 343 firefighters, 71 police officers and eight paramedics and urged everyone to treat this, the upcoming 20th anniversary of the attacks, as a day of service and remembrance.
Cleburne American Legion Auxiliary member Marty Peters agreed and encouraged all to attend a remembrance ceremony to be held 7:30 a.m. at the Cleburne Conference Center, 1501 W. Henderson St.
“The firefighters want to commemorate the moments that the tragedies occurred,” Peters said. “We realize it’s early and a weekend morning but it’s also the 20th anniversary and we need to remember all those lives that were lost that day.”
Cleburne Assistant Fire Chief Keith Scarbrough recalled the humbling 2010 experience of traveling to New York to pick up a steel I-beam salvaged from the rubble of one of the World Trade Center towers. The twisted beam, donated to Cleburne, has since been displayed on special occassions.
“We were given clearance to go in the hangar for 10 minutes to get the steel,” Scarbrough said. “That hangar is the largest building I’ve ever seen in my life, all the artifacts that came out of the towers were there including fire trucks, ambulances and police cars.”
A ladder truck smashed and other rescue vehicles badly damaged brought the stark reality of that day into sharp focus for Scarbrough.
“We’ve all seen the pictures but seeing those things for real and realizing that those trucks, trucks just like ours, that firefighters had just stepped off those trucks that day,” Scarbrough said.
The visit also broadened his understanding of that day.
“As a firefighter I had been locked into the 343 firefighters lost,” Scarbrough said. “Seeing the site I realized there were people working in those buildings that day and that they represent all of us.”
Scarbrough talked also of a collection Cleburne firefighters took up shortly after Sept. 11 to benefit the families of lost New York firefighters.
“We were out with the boots and all thinking we’d do that for a couple of hours and maybe get a little bit of money,” Scarbrough said. “But the money just kept rolling in. Finally we went back to our training room and dumped the boots and buckets of cash, checks and loose change out and it covered the whole floor. That’s the most money I’ve ever seen in my life. The banks were closed but we finally got hold of a local bank and said, ‘We’ve got to put all this money somewhere.’ They took it and counted it and it was almost $40,000. Two of our firefighters, Brent Easdon and David Griffin flew to New York not long after to hand deliver all that to the firefighters in New York.”
Scarbrough echoed Harmon’s sentiments of the unity immediately following the tragedies.
“I think we’ve kind of lost that, especially after this last year,” Scarbrough said. “I think if we could get that sense of unity back we’d all be doing a lot better.”
Harmon also proclaimed September as Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month in Johnson County.
Prostrate cancer, Harmon said, constitutes 20 percent of all male cancer diagnoses and 10 percent of all male cancer deaths. This year an estimated 14,299 new cases will be diagnosed and an estimated 2,180 deaths will occur in Texas, Harmon added.
“Nationally those numbers are 248,530 diagnoses and 34,130 deaths, which is one man every 15 minutes,” Harmon said.
Prostrate cancer, Harmon said, is the second most diagnosed form of cancer in men, behind only skin cancer, and the second leading cause of death behind lung cancer.
Many of those deaths can be avoided and education and early detection are critical to saving lives, Harmon said, in urging the importance of prostrate cancer screenings.
Michael Butler, an associate of North Texas Prostrate Cancer Coalition and a 20-year cancer survivor, agreed.
“I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have early detection,” Butler said. “It’s the C word and nobody wants to talk about it. I encourage all men, and their wives, to be aware of it. And for all men to get tested, get early detection and early treatment. It’s not that hard to do. It’s just that so many of us are stubborn and not doing it.”
Butler, who counsels men with prostrate cancer and their families also urged everyone to tell their friends to get tested.
“Just be aware so you don’t get blind sided,” Butler said. “Doing so will make a world of difference in your life.”
Harmon also delivered a proclamation in honor of Antique Alley’s return next month.
The volunteer-organized event occurs twice yearly on the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of April and September.
What began in 1999 between downtown Grandview and Cleburne via Farm-to-Market Road 4 now encompasses several cities in and out of Johnson County.
“The Antique Alley Shopping Trail now stretches well over 100 miles,” volunteer organizer Nita Redmon said.
The event, which also inspires numerous yard sales, brings substantial tourism and economic activity to participating cities. Organizers spoke of meeting people from San Antonio, Austin and other Texas locales last April as well as visitors from as far away as Russia and Australia.
“We’ve become an international event,” Commissioner Larry Woolley mused.
Commissioners and event volunteers reminded, however, that it’s illegal to park alongside the highway during the event.