For 3 years now, Congressman Robert Aderholt has had a summer birthday celebration with an invitation for the public to attend.
It was held in his home county of Winston the first two years, but they mixed things up and held it in Guntersville this year.
About 140 people attended the shrimp boil celebration at County Park No. 1 Saturday night, Sept. 11.
As political affairs go, it was pretty laid back. There was live gospel music with dinner and dessert. Then the Congressman – whose family has a lake home here – said a few words as did local Special Forces veteran Mike Conner, who also led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Aderholt acknowledged that his birthday had actually passed a couple of months ago and said they’d had some difficulty scheduling the event this year. His father has been ill and recently passed.
“We got to looking at the calendar and this date, 9-11, was the first time we could do it and we talked about it being the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks,” he said.
After some discussion, he said it seemed appropriate to acknowledge and remember 9/11 and those who lost their lives but to also go on living.
“That is what the U.S. had to do after 9/11,” he said.
He recognized those in the audience who had served in Afghanistan or Iraq. He also shared how he and his family were in Washington D.C. the day of the attacks.
“Our daughter whom many of you now know was 2 years old,” he said.
He had just left for the Capitol when the plane struck the Pentagon.
“Needless to say, I did not make it to the Capitol that day,” he said.
He turned around and went back to be with his family. He said they didn’t know what to expect next.
“It was a bad day for the U.S. of A.,” he said. But he recalled how the U.S. responded with strength.
“And we are still strong and we will continue to be strong, with God’s help,” Congressman Aderholt said.
Master Sgt. Conner then spoke. He recalled how he was at Ft. McClellan teaching a class on close quarters combat at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
“We would soon be using the skills we were teaching,” he said. By September of 2002, he and his Special Forces group were in Afghanistan.
This August, Conner’s own son Charlie deployed to Afghanistan as part of the U.S. force overseeing the airlift out of that nation.
“When my son called me to tell me he was being deployed, I told him to not be a hero, to rely on his training and to keep his head on a swivel,” Conner said. “And I told him I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t kill every damned terrorist in that country when I was there.”
His remarks drew applause.
Guntersville High Crimson Guard member Jacob Bodine played “Taps” and Rev. Bill Hudgins prayed.