City of St. George salutes first responders, commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks in downtown ceremony

ST. GEORGE — St. George citizens, law enforcement officers, elected officials and dignitaries gathered at the Historic Town Square Saturday morning to honor and recognize first responders.

Members of the Lava Ridge Intermediate Honors Choir perform at a 9/11 ceremony paying tribute to first responders, St. George, Utah, Sept. 11, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The event commemorated the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the Twin Towers and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

St. George Mayor Michele Randall spoke at the event, reading a poem she wrote that praises the sacrifices and hard work of first responders.

She told St. George News that the topic is special to her family and she’s a strong proponent of the St. George Police Department and the St. George Fire Department.

“9/11 impacted all of us,” Randall said. “I have a son who’s a police officer, I have a son who’s a firefighter and I have a son who’s a paramedic. First responders are near and dear to my heart, always have been, always will be.”

Randall said that there has been an unfortunate change in the way first responders are treated over the last 20 years.

“After 9/11, they were heroes. Everyone would stop and thank police officers and firefighters and paramedics and EMT’s,” Randall said. “Then that changed over the years to where some of them now are spit on and abused.”

Members of the United We Pledge Choir perform at a 9/11 ceremony paying tribute to first responders, St. George, Utah, Sept. 11, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Randall commented that while it’s important to remember what happened on that fateful Sept. 11, she likes to recall what happened on Sept. 12.

“We also remember 9/12, when everybody united,” Randall said. “And that’s what I’d like to see for our country, is our people uniting.”

The “Remembering 9/11: Honoring First Responders and Their Families” ceremony was put on by the City of St. George, American Legion Post 90, the St. George Exchange Club, United We Pledge and many other community organizations.

Patriotic songs were sung by the United We Pledge Choir and the Lava Ridge Intermediate Honors Choir. 

Lex Howard, CEO of Balance of Nature, spoke and rabbi Helene Ainbinder of the St. George Interfaith Council provided the invocation.

Keynote speaker Mark Dransfield, who now resides in St. George, provided eyewitness testimony. On Sept. 11, 2001, Dransfield was employed by Josephthal & Co. Inc., a financial firm headquartered in downtown Manhattan.

He and his coworkers frequently did business at the Twin Towers. While he wasn’t there on the day of the attack, his coworkers had family members who were there and unfortunately died that day.

“I had been in that building so many times before that. On the upper floors, one company lost 658 employees from their firm. It just wiped them out,” Dransfield told St. George News. “And to have worked with those people, yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday.”

St. George Police Officer Colby Decamp collects money for first responders at a 9/11 ceremony, St. George, Utah, Sept. 11, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Dransfield was left with a lifelong impression of the incredible work that first responders do.

“By the time I got down there, to Ground Zero, these firefighters hadn’t left. They had gone a couple of days without sleep. Who knows if they had anything to eat,” Dransfield said. “They were still there on-site, and they were still going into those ruins trying to pull survivors out.”

As an eyewitness to history, some impressions will last upon him forever.

“To be standing among them, and to look at their exhausted, dirty faces, it’s just something you don’t forget,” Dransfield said. “They knew the risk, yet they went into those burning and collapsing towers. It just blows my mind that they would do something like that.”

Besides speeches and musical tribute, prize drawings were held throughout the event with the awards going to local first responders.

Historic Town Square was full of St. George citizens honoring first responders.

“We’re so glad about the turnout,” David Cordero, communications and marketing director of the City of St. George, said. “We had hoped to get a big crowd so we’re really excited about that.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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