Veterans and volunteers serve community for 15th anniversary of 9/11

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Hundreds of North Texas volunteers and veterans chose to serve their community, Sunday, as they reflected, 15 years later, on the horrific events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.

Nearly anyone, old enough to remember, can tell you exactly where they were when they learned the United States was under attack. Those giving up their weekend, to give back, were no exception.

“I remember sitting at my breakfast table watching the news bulletins come in,” said Vietnam veteran Ray Norton.

Volunteer Stuart Lodge said, “The TVs were on, and we saw one of the towers had already come down and the other one was on fire.”

More than 700 people gave back, Sunday, during the 14th year for the North Texas tradition, now known as Freedom Day.

“We’re going to come together as a community. We’re going to help each other out, remind each other we’ve got each other’s backs,” said Scott Cooper. Cooper served in the Marine Corps for 20 years. He says, like many others, 9/11 encouraged him to stick with the Marines well after he finished two tours in the Middle East.

“That sense of purpose you get from serving your country was all the more relevant, and close at hand, after 9/11,” he said.

Volunteers, young and old, worked side-by-side, planting trees, cleaning up the community, painting classrooms and more.

Entrepreneurs for North Texas hosted the event, which spanned 15 project sites across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“You cannot stop giving. Once you're a veteran, you're always a veteran, and you're serving every day,” said Vietnam vet Paul Hendricks, “It's a privilege to serve this country, we hope to serve this country until the time we're put in the ground.”

A sentiment Scott Cooper agreed with, “It's extraordinary, it's kind of to remind everybody, ‘hey, we're all in this together.’”