Speakers at Wednesday's ceremony in Brownwood commemorating the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 recalled what they were doing and what they felt and thought upon learning what had happened that Tuesday morning.
Others recalled their presence at Ground Zero where the World Trade Center had stood in the days after the attack.
And all of the speakers vowed that the country won't forget the loss of life among first responders and civilians, and the sacrifices of military personnel in the years that followed.
The American Red Cross West Central Texas Chapter hosted the ceremony, held outside the Family Services Center, the now the home of the Brownwood office.
Dozens of representatives of law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical services attended the ceremony, as well as numerous local officials and other guests, attended.
Janet Karcher, executive director of the Red Cross chapter, said earlier the ceremony was intended to honor the First Responders who entered the World Trade Center and lost their lives trying to save others, along with their counterparts in Brown County who perform heroic acts daily.
The ceremony included the raising of the "Flag of Honor" and the tolling of the bells by the Heart of Texas Honor Guard, which consists of Brownwood and Stephenville firefighters.
"First Responders and all innocent civilians, young and old, remember this day," Brownwood Fire Chief Del Albright, one of several speakers, said shortly after the ceremony began.
"This day is also a day to reaffirm, as a nation, our resolve to fight terrorism and any threat to freedom at home and abroad."
Brownwood Police Chief Mike Corley said it's a day to pay respect to those who lost their lives and to commend "the courageous people who acted so bravely on 9-11. … you are truly American heroes.
"We are a divided country right now. Maybe reflecting on 9-11 can help us remember how it feels to be united."
Corley said he was at Ground Zero and "it's a very hallowed place."
"We will never forget," Corley said.
Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes said he was driving to work when he heard a radio news report that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. "Everyone thought it was an accident or pilot error," Haynes said.
Then news reports rolled in indicating a second plane had hit, and "everyone knew their lives had just changed. It's a day of remembrance. What do you remember?" Haynes answered that question, saying it's a time to remember those who lost their lives, the heroic response of first responders, and the military forces.
"The thing I remember most is the way our county reacted and resolved to eliminate the threat of terrorism," Haynes said.
"We were neither Republican nor Democrat. We were neither conservatives nor liberals. We were Americans."
Chaplain Dave Fair, who was deployed to Ground Zero 10 days after the attacks, said the most difficult event for him was "when they declared the rescue effort to be a recovery effort."
Even after that declaration, volunteers kept digging with their hands, hoping to find any sign of a survivor, Fair said.
Chaplain Dan Chapman, who was also deployed to Ground Zero, recalled being asked to come onto the rubble pile and pray moments after the remains of a firefighter were found. Chapman at first didn't know what to pray.
Chapman heard himself praying, "Father, you never forget anybody you ever created."
"The stench of death was quelled by the aroma of God's love," Chapman recalled. "America will never forget, nor should we as we remember the providence of God as he has kept his hand upon us."