September 19, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if you personally had to light more than 3,000 candles? No it's not Wanda's birthday cake either. Sorry that's my one brief attempt at humor in what otherwise will be a pretty somber story. It took a host of volunteers but on September 11, 2002 a total of 3,025 luminaries were lit as part of the Scotland County community's memorial service to remember those who lost their lives one year earlier during the terrorist attacks on America.

A near capacity crowd filled the stadium at Scotland County R-I High School as area residents gathered to commemorate the solemn occasion. Words were heard from local, state and national dignitaries as well as from our local religious leaders but nothing was as gripping as that winding walk down the labyrinth of luminaries. Sure 3,025 is an enormous number, and most of us realize that would be like wiping Memphis and much of the surrounding areas of Scotland County completely from the map. Still it took this marathon stroll down the path lighted by these memorial candles for it to sink in for me.

Maybe what made it even more emotional for me was the fact that I was holding my three-year old daughter's hand as we walked together down the path. She knew what the candles stood for so she didn't have much to say as we walked the labyrinth. It looked like fun to her until we started and then I think it hit her too because she asked me about the bad people that had done this. That thought scared her enough that she jumped into my arms and I carried her the rest of the way.

I comforted her by saying that I wouldn't ever let anything bad happen to her, a cure-all that seems to heal any fears for little ones as they have 100 percent confidence in mom and dad. At the same time her hug and her dependence on me brought dad back home from the mental journeys to New York City and the Pentagon where all this terror had occurred.

I kept hearing the words of Baptist Church Youth Minister Troy Barrett as he said "Gratitude is an attitude and it can become a lifestyle." As I walked down the path of remembrance for all those people that had died on September 11 I had my arms full of cause to be grateful. I looked back on that evening and found numerous other reasons to give thanks.

I am grateful to live in this wonderful community, that brought so many people out to show their patriotism and their grief caused by 9-11. I gave thanks as I looked up and saw my family sitting in the stands. I took pride when so many stood and offered their gratitude to my fellow public servants in the fire department as well as all other forms of volunteers.

There are so many emotions still floating around after the attack on our nation. Obviously we are angered by these cowardly atrocities carried out upon so many innocent people. Most are confused how murderers can try to justify their actions with religious doctrine. Some are afraid of what will happen next.

It is exactly at these times when so many forces are tugging at us from all directions that we need to pause and count our blessings. The old saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Unfortunately, so many people were forced to realize this on September 11 when they had friends, family, co-workers and loved ones taken from them.

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