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Decatur-area events remember 9/11 attacks

Decatur Daily - 9/12/2017

Sept. 12--Pat Volonino cried Monday morning.

He has cried every Sept. 11 since 2001, when the U.S. suffered through the deadliest terror attack on American soil.

"When I see the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, it takes me back to that morning when the lives of so many Americans changed," Volonino said.

The U.S. Army veteran was among hundreds in Morgan County who gathered at various programs to mark the 16th anniversary of the day most Americans simply refer to as "9/11."

Volonino, who is past commander of American Legion Post 15 in Decatur, was part of the group that gathered at the Committee on Church Cooperation for a program that reflected on 9/11, but also connects veterans with services available to them in the community.

"We wanted to recognize the sacrifices of emergency responders and civilians during 9/11, and our veterans," CCC public relations manager Harriette Mathews said.

On Monday evening at Morgan County Celebration Arena, church leaders and pastors united for "A Time of Remembrance" prayer vigil.

The turnout was smaller than expected because of the weather, but event organizer George Hearring said it was important to go ahead with the tribute.

"There were so many brave people who lent a helping hand that day without regards for their own life and they still do it every day," he said about emergency officials.

Hearring's birthday is Sept. 11. He said his plan is to one day have a 24-hour prayer vigil with hopefully every church in Morgan County participating.

Regardless of where 9/11 events were in the Decatur area, residents had no problem remembering where they were in 2001, especially as news coverage showed two planes crashing into the World Trade Center.

Harold Belletete, who served in the military for 20 years and is current commander for American Legion Post 15, was working for Lockheed Martin at Marshall Space Flight Center.

"I knew right away it was terrorism," he said.

Belletete said it's important to have programs on the anniversary of the tragedy so families of those "who died that day know we have not forgotten them."

Volonino was home watching events across the nation unfold on 9/11.

"I watched the entire thing on TV that day," he said. "I still do on the anniversary and I still cry like it happened yesterday."

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deangelo@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.

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(c)2017 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

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