Of the memories shared during the city of Franklin’s 9/11 tribute Saturday morning, one of the more poignant had to do with the heroics of passengers on Flight 93 and what led up to the “Let’s roll” exclamation from Todd Beamer.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore — one of the speakers at the annual ceremony that was held in front of the historic Williamson County Courthouse to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack — focused his remarks on what transpired on the hijacked Flight 93 that terrorists had meant to crash into the U.S. Capitol.
Beamer, a young family man who traveled frequently as a salesman, rallied three other passengers to overtake the plane and prevent it from hitting its intended target in Washington, D.C., and instead crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Beamer’s shout of “Let’s roll” has become one of the iconic memories of that tragic day on Sept. 11, 2001.
“But the thing that impressed me so much about Todd Beamer, that says so much about him, is that he paused,” Moore said. … “He was on the phone with an airphone operator and pauses and [asks her to] say the Lord’s Prayer with [him]. Then he recites the 23rd Psalm, which is so familiar to all of us. Then he tells three other people with him, ‘Let’s roll.’
“My point of this is hitting the pause button. Our world changed so much 20 years ago and it continues to have challenges and changes going on today... But I urge all of us to hit that pause button and think for a minute; hit the pause button and say a prayer; hit that pause button and think of the service of our firemen and policemen and the dedication they have every day; and think of those families that are forever changed because of the events of 9/11. But also pause and think about how so many people that give back to their communities that are not policeman or firemen, they just enter those opportunities.
“So whenever you hear ‘Let’s roll,’ remember Todd Beamer, and hit the pause button to think and to pray.”
Other speakers at Saturday’s event were Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey, Williamson County Sheriff Dusty Rhoades, Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner and Franklin Fire Chief Glenn Johnson. An invocation was given by Fire Chaplain Lieutenant-Paramedic James Gambill, and Franklin Police Patrol Officer Jeff Carson sang the national anthem.
Faulkner, who has been Franklin’s police chief since 2014, was instrumental in the start of the city’s annual ceremony. She spoke of how difficult it is to remember that day, yet how necessary it is as well.
“During the aftermath of that terrible day, the whole world witnessed how Americans are resilient, not to mention relentless,” she told the crowd. “It was our strong faith and our fighting spirit that carried us through one of the saddest days in our nation’s history. May God continue to bless us and protect us, and I know one thing’s for sure: Franklin will never forget.”
Those in attendance would echo that pledge. Dan and Jaqui McDermott, for instance, brought their three young daughters to the tribute so they could learn from an early age about those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day. They’re newcomers to Franklin, having moved here in August from Maine, and this was the first time they’ve had an opportunity to attend a 9/11 commemoration.
“We wanted to teach our kids about remembering those who fight for our country and those who died that day,” Jaqui said. “We’re just trying to remember as a family.
“This is the first time to attend a tribute like this. We always remembered at home, but this is very exciting.”
Jadon Wilson and Austin Russell, who came from Nashville for the ceremony, were each just 3 years old and living in Washington state on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I remember distinctly my parents didn’t wake me up that morning,” Wilson said. “Typically my mom would come and get me up. I remember crawling out of bed and going to their room and seeing them in tears just staring at the TV.”
Russell said he pauses to pray on 9/11 and to remember those who sacrificed everything to help save others.
“This (the Franklin tribute) was a perfect opportunity to do that with other people,” he said. “We’re probably the last age group that can remember seeing it on TV. I know it’s something I’ll never forget.”