(photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
Red, white and blue were the colors of the day for many Sikeston and area residents. Schools throughout the region marked the nation's first patriot day with special observances, which included songs, poems and moments of reflection.
Churches and local businesses offered their own tributes to those who lost their lives a year ago in the attacks.
The 9-11 Memorial Wall was the backdrop at the Sikeston Field House, as members of the public and Sikeston High School students together reflected on the meaning of the attack and its impact on the United States. Guest speakers were Mayor Phil Boyer, Sikeston Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden, Jimmy Johnson of the Carbondale, Ill., Fire Department and Tom Nunnelee with Tom Austin serving as the announcer. The high school band provided the music for the occassion.
They gathered by the hundreds at the state Capitol grounds, bowing their heads, then placing their hands over their hearts as they looked to the American flag.
They gathered, too, in churches and schools and in small groups in numerous towns.
And they honored their heroes, dead and alive -- some in their midst, such as Steve Paulsell, chief of the Missouri Task Force 1 search and rescue team sent immediately to the site of the World Trade Center.
In the past year, ''we have cried ... we have attempted to move on with our lives -- it has not been easy,'' Paulsell said at a Capitol ceremony that also honored firefighters and other emergency workers.
All of Missouri's elected officials took part, standing for the tolling of bells, a moment of silence, the presentation of the flags, the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer and patriotic song -- a pattern not uncommon to ceremonies across the state.
The Jefferson City ceremony concluded with two children releasing dozens of butterflies from a cardboard box -- a symbol of the attack victims and the nation's changes in the past year.
Red and white balloons -- representing blood and peace -- were released in Columbia after a ceremony dedicating a wall bearing the names of 3,044 people who died in the attacks.
The Branson ceremony ended with the unveiling of a 60-foot-by-129-foot replica of artwork by Richard Daniel Clark -- a montage of famous architecture, including the World Trade Center towers, in front of an American flag. Above reads, ''One Nation Under God,'' while below reads, ''We The People, United We Stand.''
After Branson's black curtain dropped, five firefighters stepped out onto the roof of The Grand Palace. Flags were waiving and people were cheering -- a few wiped away tears.
Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was among the celebrities at the Branson event.
''If the angels of Sept. 11, 2001, didn't leave any other gift -- they left a wake-up call,'' she said.
In Jefferson City, Gov. Bob Holden said that call has been answered.
''We were tested by tragedy, and we triumphed,'' Holden said. ''Out of that struggle has come a heightened sense of patriotism and a stronger commitment to fight to protect the freedoms we enjoy.''
While speakers pressed for justice in the war on terrorism, they also urged unity among Americans of all races and religions.
At an interfaith prayer service in St. Louis, Imam Waheed Rana, head of the St. Louis Islamic Foundation, decried ''the heinous act of Sept. 11 last year.'' Then he added: ''Let's make a pledge to do our utmost to pursue freedom and justice.''
During the St. Louis service, retired principal Terry Proffitt stood behind his wife, his arms wrapped around her waist.
''Initially, there was anger directed at folks not guilty of anything,'' said Proffitt, 58, of the St. Louis suburb of Calverton Park. ''But we are a fair people. I think we know who the real enemy is, and we managed to unite.''
Amid the official speeches and ceremonies, there also were plenty of personal signs of love, friendship and loyalty.
In Joplin, staff and volunteers at the Community Hospices of America baked chocolate chip cookies, which they delivered to local emergency personnel.
A capital city florist was giving away 30,000 free roses -- a dozen per person, so long as they promised to give 11 of them to others. Customers appeared to follow through.
While walking down the street in Jefferson City, a stranger handed two red roses to Kim Swaney of Bucklin and 2-year-old Kaitlyn Edwards, whom Swaney was baby-sitting. Swaney had no idea why, but rightly figured that it must have had something to do with Sept. 11.
Secretary of State Matt Blunt, the keynote speaker at the Capitol ceremony because of his Navy service after the attacks, said one of the day's greatest moments may have come while he was taking a morning run.
''I saw an elderly woman struggling with great care and delicacy to place her flag in a perfect half-mast position,'' Blunt said. ''It was a beautiful picture of love for our flag and, more importantly, the freedom the flag represents.''
In St. Joseph, firefighters and residents gathered at the Fire Department headquarters for an early morning remembrance ceremony.
But during the ceremony, a few officers had to leave to respond to a medical emergency. The first-responders left headquarters with lights flashing and sirens sounding, an impromptu tribute to the fallen emergency workers of Sept 11.
By the coincidence of a constitutional requirement, the Legislature also met Wednesday for its annual veto session. Lawmakers had been in a special session on Sept. 11, 2001.
This time, they met under heightened security, which has remained in place at the Capitol and elsewhere since the days and weeks after the attacks.
Some senators said the state had gone too far by installing an imported $16,000, one-person-at-a-time door leading from the Capitol basement to the Senate parking garage. Some senators were considering whether to request the door be removed.