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Today marks the 11th anniversary of September 11th. Memorials are being held around the country in honor of the victims. KSMU’s Melanie Foehrweiser attended one memorial service held in the Ozarks and has this report.
(Sound: Star Spangled Banner)
That’s the Central High School choir performing at a memorial service held in remembrance of John Charles Willett. Willett was one of two Missourians killed on 9-11. A graduate of Branson High School, Willett went on to become the youngest county treasurer in Missouri history when he took over the position for Taney County in 1995 at the age of 23. Six years later, he found himself working as a finance manager for a non-profit whose offices were located in the north tower.
Jerry Jacob is a reporter for KY3 who enlisted in the Army in 2007. He served tours in Iraq, Haiti, and Afghanistan and completed his active duty obligations in January 2012. He spoke at today’s tribute.
“On this day, 11 years ago, John Charles Willett was 29 years old. He was on a conference call with some people in England. The first plane hit the tower, and the phone line went silent. It was a day much like today, a Tuesday, clear blue sky, not a cloud up there.”
Dee Maples is the Director of RSVP, a volunteer program, for the Council of Churches. At the memorial service, she read a message from Willett’s friend and fraternity brother, Robert.
“Robert’s favorite memory of John is when they both attended the University of Missouri together. Robert chuckled as he told a story of how he and John would cut classes to go play pool just like normal college kids. Robert then paused as if remembering and then said, ‘those memories will live on forever.’”
Willett’s parents, Ron and Lucy Willett, were presented with three flags; an American flag and a Missouri flag which flew over the state capitol, and a second American flag with special meaning to Jerry Jacob.
“That American flag you’re holding there Ron was on a medevac chopper in RC East in Afghanistan one year ago today. It was the 10th anniversary of 9-11. I carried that flag with me to Afghanistan.”
A crowd of about 50 turned out to honor Willett. The memorial was put on as a part of the 9-11 National Day of Service and Remembrance by the Council of Churches. Dee Maples says that memorials like this one are important.
“I don’t think we should ever forget the events of that day. There’s not a single person that 9-11 didn’t effect. And…I think it’s important to know that there is unity in the United States of America.”
After the service, Willett’s parents were taken by limo to the Victim Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park to decorate their son’s memorial stone.
For KSMU News, I’m Melanie Foehrweiser.