Roberts: Remembering 9/11

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 12, 2014

Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ennis stands in remembrance of those lost 13 years ago.  MESSENGER PHOTO/JAINE TREADWELL

Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ennis stands in remembrance of those lost 13 years ago.

Arthur Roberts Jr. is 49 years old. He has always been a person in uniform.

As a member of the Boy Scouts and the JROTC and as a correctional officer and a New York firefighter, the “uniform” identified who he is. He has always honored and respected the uniform he wore.

But never had he felt the weight of the responsibility and the honor of the “uniform” until 9-11-2001.

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Roberts was the featured speaker at the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony hosted Thursday by American Legion Post 70 and the Post Auxiliary at Bicentennial. He served as a chaplain at Ground Zero in New York in the days after the terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Centers.

“As a foot messenger, I was in and out of the Twin Towers almost every day,” he said. “When I saw the first plane crash into the Tower, I couldn’t believe it.”

Roberts’ immediate thought mirrored those of most Americans. The crash was surely a terrible accident.

“When the second plane crashed into the Towers, I said, ‘Oh, my God! This is the worst catastrophe on American soil.’”

On Sept. 14, Roberts joined volunteer firefighters from all across the country in assisting with what had to be done.

“Ashes, soot and smoke were all over Manhattan – 40 blocks away,” Roberts said. “When I heard the death totals, I could not believe that there were people so wicked and so evil that they would do such a terrible thing.”

Roberts said as he stood looking at the devastation and thinking of all the lives that had been forever changed on the bright, sunny September morning, he knew, in a way he had never known before, that freedom is not free.

“It costs blood,” he said.

New Yorkers readily showed their support for and love of country by putting American flags in their car windows.

“People were standing up for the American way of life,” Roberts said. “There was a feeling on hope not hopelessness. God was still good and we were blessed.”

Roberts said the terror of 9/11 has not ended.

“There are new gangsters, new pirates, new bandits that are determined to destroy our way of life,” he said. “But God is mighty in battle.”

Katie Hale, Post 70 Auxiliary president, quoted former president George W. Bush in saying that there will be no forgetting Sept, 11, 2001. “We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of children.”

Hale said of the 2,977 people killed in the September 11 attacks, 414 were emergency workers in New York City who responded to the World Trade Center.

Troy Mayor Jason A. Reeves joined American Legion Post 70 and the Post Auxiliary in honoring the first responders in Pike County who live their lives in service to others.

Reeves said, no matter the cause, Americans rise to the occasion.

“As we are servants to a mighty and risen Lord,” he said