Patriot’s Day ceremonies were held this morning at the Public Safety Memorial, located next to the historic Cherokee County Courthouse. The event is held each year to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Tim Cavender, Public Information Officer for Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services, served as the Master of Ceremonies. The first speaker for the morning was Billy Peppers, City Manager of Canton, who gave the morning’s official welcome.
Ellen Ganci Stearns, brother of Peter Ganci, Jr., who served as the Fire Chief of New York during the September 11th terrorist attacks, came to the podium to say a few words. On the morning of the attacks, Peter Ganci was going to court for jury duty. Immediately after American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center North Tower they arrived on the scene in less than 10 minutes, and set up a command post on a ramp leading to a garage near the North Tower, in time to see United Airlines Flight #175 hit the South Tower. Ganci and others were in the basement of the South Tower when it collapsed, but they dug themselves out of the rubble that had caved in on them. He and Mayor Rudy Giuliani had spoken just minutes before, when Giuliani had left for his command post, following Ganci's instruction to Giuliani, the fire commissioners and others to clear the area because it was apparent the North Tower would fall. However, Ganci himself did not evacuate the area, saying, "I'm not leaving my men", and remained at that location with William Feehan, first deputy commissioner of the fire department. Ganci and Feehan were killed when the second tower collapsed.
After Mrs. Stearns speech, Nathan Brandon came forward to give the invocation, followed by the presentation of the flags by the Cherokee County Multi Agency Color Guard and the playing of the national anthem by the Cherokee High School Band of Warriors.
Holly Springs Police Chief, Mike Carswell, came forward to lead everyone in a “moment of silence.” After the “moment of silence,” Lt. Cheri Collett with Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.
Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, came forward to introduce the guest speaker for the morning, Lt. Phillip Shrout, who is a Cherokee County firefighter. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, Lt. Shrout enlisted into the United States Marine Corps and arrived at Parris Island for Boot Camp on New Year’s Day in 2002. He was later trained as a radio operator and was eventually sent to Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. Shrout would later board the USS Kearsage and depart for Kuwait. His unit arrived in Kuwait in February of 2003 just a month before the Iraq invasion.
After Shrout’s speech, the Cherokee County High School Band of Warriors played “God Bless the USA.” Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, and Cherokee County Sheriff, Frank Reynolds, placed a wreath at the public safety memorial. “Buzz” Ahrens, Chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, gave the closing remarks, followed by a 21 gun salute and the playing of “taps.”