Editor’s note: The following was read aloud before the Rockingham City Council when McLaurin was mayor on Sept. 18, 2001. The meeting had been scheduled for Sept. 11, but was postponed a week.
As we begin our meeting tonight it is important to acknowledge that last Tuesday (one week ago), September 11 is still on our minds. Thousands (we still don’t know for sure how many) of U.S. citizens have died during terrorist attacks against our country. The terrorists struck at powerful symbols of the United States. The two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City are gone, and the Pentagon in Washington has been badly damaged by hijacked jetliners. We now know for certain that evil people can come into our country and into our neighborhoods and commit horrible acts against our fellow Americans. Shock and disbelief were our first reactions, followed by helplessness and sadness for the victims and their families. We still feel anger. Prayer services have been held all across America, including one such service on our courthouse steps just a block away.
Our national leaders need our support as they focus on how to react and respond in the appropriate way. We must stop those responsible for these cowardly actions.
Like all of you, I have been inspired by our country’s citizens and governmental leaders uniting through this horrible event. Flags are flying all across our land and people of all ages have learned what it means to be an American. We have seen real heroes at work; brave and courageous firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel risking their own lives to rescue others.
It is important, however, to try and return to some sense of normality. It is hard to think about normal after the tragedy of September 11. As President Bush urged us on Sunday it is time to get back to work, at our jobs and serving our community like we are doing tonight making the day to day decisions to move Rockingham forward. But it’s also important to watch out for one another and help one another and love one another. From this experience we have learned that with the privilege of freedom comes responsibility. Part of our responsibility is to make our cities and our country more secure and safe. Another part is to show pride in our country and our communities.
We all need to encourage one another, comfort one another, pull together and keep the American spirit alive. Throughout our history America has always been at its best during difficult times, during trying times. Let’s make sure that happens again and do our part to help America become safer, stronger and better prepared for the future. Our children, grandchildren and those who follow are depending on us.
We must trust God, even when we do not understand. We must not give up hope. We must have faith…goodness and justice will prevail.
May God hold us all in the palm of his hand. May God bless America.
Gene McLaurin is a former mayor of Rockingham and state Senator.