Although many people turned to religion and made family relationships a top priority during the weeks and months after the tragic events of Sept. 11, Col. Jack Hook said the terrorist attacks didn't change his perspective on life.
"I would like to believe that I've got my priorities straight," he said. "The relationships with my family have been there and it is a great comfort to know those relationships are there."
For Hook, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are relatively poignant. The Fort Gordon employee was attending a meeting at the Pentagon, no more than 100 yards from where the plane crashed.
He will share his experience with others during Columbia County's Remembering Our Sorrow; Proclaiming God's Hope commemorative service Sept. 11 at Wesley United Methodist Church. The program will begin at 7 p.m.
Hook, who has served in the military for 27 years and is the Training and Doctrine Command's System Manager for Tactical Radios at Fort Gordon, said that though he will share his experience, he will not make that the focus of his presentation.
"The focus should be on remembering the victims and heroes and taking the events of those days and using them to inspire us," he said. "We have to get back to the core values and realize the things that made this country great. We must also realize that all of that comes at a cost."
"(The community commemorative event will) provide a place for people to process their grief, honor the deceased and proclaim faith in the midst of grief," said the Rev. Glenn Ethridge, the senior pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church. "We open our doors to the community as a place of healing and hope. The Sept. 11 tragedy has deeply touched our nation and we continue to pray for peace and justice."
Hook adds that the events of last fall should serve as a reminder as to why Americans serve in the military and instill a renewed interest in a commitment to "selfless service for a new generation. We need to dedicate our selves to serving selflessly and paying the price for freedom. There's always something more valuable than self," he said.
While Americans are serving their country abroad and fighting the war on terrorism, Hook encourages Americans at home to remain patient.
"We're in a war and we must remain patient and persistent for the long term," he said. "The terrorists will look for every opportunity they can to cause these types of crises in our country. We must stay constantly vigilant in our homeland defense, as well as take the fighting to them."
Hook will join the Rev. Cynthia Taylor, who served as a chaplain at Ground Zero, as a speaker for the commemorative event. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Martinez Fire Department's honor guards will also participate, as will the Community Children's Choir and Eloise Vidal will play an original piano composition entitled "9-11."
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