Veteran Tim Estes of Bedford County works as a defender of freedom and liberty.
One of his goals is that no one forgets the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, especially on the 20th anniversary.
“To me, at my age, which when that happened, I was 36 years old. I look at it as if was the Pearl Harbor of my generation―77 years ago.”
So, he and several other veterans and volunteers are planning a special 20th anniversary remembrance 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Shelbyville Central High School Auditorium. The free event will feature guest speaker Jeffrey Johnson, a senior Marine instructor and retired U.S. Marine Corp colonel.
The free program for the community will be sponsored by Defenders of Freedom and Liberty of which Estes serves as treasurer. The group will also be displaying American Flags around town in memory of lives lost that September day.
Organizers note this upcoming 9/11 program will definitely be a handover-heart day—one filled with sadness but also one filled with patriotism.
Putting on his boots
Estes said he was putting on his shoes the day the terror attacks took place at the World Trade Center in 2001. After turning on the TV, upon the advisement of his mom, he really thought a crop duster-size airplane had just gotten off schedule in New York City.
Of course that was not the case. America had been attacked by terrorists.
“When I turned it on, I see one of the towers burning. The news media is trying to figure out what’s happening. Within about 6 or 8 minutes of watching it, then we see the other jet fly into the other tower.”
That’s when Estes says he believes, like the popular 911 Alan Jackson song goes, “the world stopped turning.”
He was serving in the Tennessee Army National Guard at the time, so he realizes the magnitude of that day and the lasting effects it would have on him but most importantly, America. “I can’t tell you how many days my TV stayed on that coverage,” says Estes.
Veteran Donnie Porter, also a supporter of the 9/11 event, was in the Air National Guard, stationed in the 118th Airlift Wing in Nashville on Sept. 11, 2001.
He was working as an aircraft maintenance supervisor. He recalls he was going to a doctor’s appointment in Nashville that ill-fated day. He had not even gotten off the base when he heard the news coverage about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
“Even the news media was still thinking that it was a small plane, because the word had not spread it was an airliner.”
Because he remembered how a small plane had previously crashed into the towers, he didn’t think much of the news at the time, he says.
“I was sitting in my doctor’s office . . . . Oddly enough, my doctor was Jordanian, a Muslim.”
He explains there was also a Christian and Jewish doctor on the medical staff, but the Jewish doctor was the one who initially told him the news.
There sat Porter in his uniform, unaware what had actually happened – a course of events that would change the direction of his military career.
While his blood pressure was being checked, the doctor told Porter, “‘you better get ready, because you’re going to war. We’ve been attacked.’”
The doc was right.
Porter would eventually be deployed seven times, mainly during Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This is why he really has a vested interest in 911 remembrances.
“Sadly, we have grown a successive generation,” says Porter, “that if you just went out one of these younger people who are reaching adulthood . . . what 9-11 mean to them, they would have a blank look on their face.”
He encourages everyone to attend the upcoming 911 remembrance program at SCHS.
It’s a time, he adds, for everyone to put away their cells phones and come out of those closed off social circles to remember that September day.
More than ever, he says he’s a firm believer in the phrase that goes back to World War II: “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Mom remembers event
Cindy Cartwright, who works with Estes and is involved in many veterans’ events here, remembers that her son, Sam, now a medical student, was a young boy on Sept. 11, 2001; they watched the events unfold on TV.
She now works with the veterans’ groups―those which Estes and others have made a post-military career mission. Her son is also now a great supporter of Estes’ group Defenders of Freedom and Liberty and works with Estes in the summers.
Vietnam Vet reflects
Roger Wood retired from corporate America in 1999. He was scheduled to play golf the morning of Sept. 11, 2001; he had also enrolled in real estate school at Motlow State Community College in Lynchburg.
This Vietnam veteran says his day started off with leisure time, but ended on a much sadder note, as numbers that night were coming in about those who had lost their lives in the Twin Towers and abroad the aircraft involved.
“I sat there and watched a 737 fly into the World Trade Center . . . second tower. That’s when, not only my phone started ringing . . . I also started calling family members, just to say simply, ‘I love you’ and ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.’”
Wood retired from the military service in 1973. He says he was “in and out” of Vietnam many times before the war officially ended. He now dedicates a lot of his time veteran services.
While it would be nice to believe that such terrorist attacks are a part of history, Wood notes how he believes terrorists live in America and for that reason, maybe more than ever, patriotism and defense of freedom is a necessity of life.
In conjunction with the Sept. 11 program, the Blood Assurance Bloodmobile will be set up Saturday, Sept. 11, at 108 Lane Parkway from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Due to COVID-19 especially, blood supplies are running very low right now.
Estes notes this is a great way to remember and honor the victims of the 911 attacks.
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