Decline in values a threat equal to terrorism, 9/11 speaker says

Friday, September 12, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ The Rev. Gary Brothers speaks to a gathering in front of the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson on the anniversary of 9/11 Thursday.

Terrorists struck at the United States and unified the nation Sept. 11, 2001. It was a defining moment, when everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of the attack in New York and on the Pentagon, speakers at a prayer meeting on the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse lawn reminded listeners Thursday.

The Rev. Gary Brothers, pastor of Cape First Assembly of God Church, led the gathering of about 70 people during the noon ceremony. He told of the call he received while in Wasilla, Alaska, that day when a family member told him to turn on his television.

The attacks, in which 19 terrorists took over four airliners at the same time, destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and tore a large hole in the Pentagon. A fourth plane was brought down by passengers after they learned of the other attacks. A total of 2,974 people died, plus the terrorists. Another 24 people are listed as missing and presumed dead. The U.S. response to the attacks has included an invasion of Afghanistan, where the terrorists were trained for their mission, and Iraq.

It was a defining moment, Brothers said, and the nation faces another defining moment, combating a threat equal to or greater than that of another terrorist attack.

The event, billed as "A Patriot Day of Gathering," served two purposes -- to remember those killed in the al-Qaida attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and to urge those attending to rededicate themselves to bringing Christian values into daily work in business and government.

At this defining moment, Brothers said, "nothing less than the very life of that people is at stake."

The threat, he said, comes from a movement away from God. "For the last 40-plus years, our nation has increasingly drifted toward the falls of godless postmodern values, rejecting God's standards in favor of anything-goes morality," Brothers said. "On one level the events of Sept. 11 awakened us to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, but the greater threat confronting us is not from outside our nation but from within our nation -- our departure from God."

The ceremony, which took about 30 minutes on the courthouse lawn, included prayers from members of the audience. Tabatha Johnson, a stay-at-home mother who homeschools her younger children, asked in prayer for "righteous rulers from the school board to the president."

The nation is being torn between two conflicting camps and the safety of the country is at stake, she said. The danger, she said, "is not only just the terrorism but we are tearing each other apart with the two nations battling for the soul of this nation."

The gathering at the courthouse included several county officials and employees, including Sheriff John Jordan, County Clerk Kara Clark and County Auditor David Ludwig.

Jordan was the only one of that group who spoke. He prayed for "a forgiving spirit" and "healing in our nation and healing of our county leaders."

The ceremony was one of several around the area today. A memorial service was held at Saint Francis Medical Center and at 9:11 a.m. in Benton, Mo., Scott County officials, employees and citizens gathered at the courthouse to remember those who died.

About 100 people attended the Scott County remembrance, with the Rev. Dennis Lowe of Unity Baptist Church speaking about the cost of that day, restating the number of airline passengers, building occupants and responders killed, the number of husbands and wives widowed and the number of children who lost parents.

Thursday evening at the SEMO District Fair included a first-time Sept. 11 tribute, by members of the Cpl. Mason O. Yarbrough Detachment of the Marine Corps League. Bill Walker, the detachment's past commandant, read a brief statement that was followed by a moment of silence, Bob Francis of Cape Girardeau playing taps and a rifle salute.

Tyler Stearns of Jackson happened upon it as they were leaving the fair. Stearns, a former U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq, said he liked the tribute.

335-6611, extension 126

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