The Creation of Liberty Park

This is a memorial article in honor of those whose lives were lost and shattered on September 11, 2001. This is a true story about real people from a small town that suffered with the enitre United States on 9-11.

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In a small town where there are only two highways and a railroad track, one would theorize that not too many things of importance would happen. I live in such a town. I returned to live in my birth town about three years ago.

When we are growing up, we never envision our lives to be full of sorrow and failure, but it does happen. I returned in hopes of finding some semblance of "normality," if there is such a thing, from a life that seemed to have been filled with failure. Maybe, I was only trying to escape to something more memorable and enjoyable from my childhood. Maybe, I wanted to know if I were really a "somebody." Regardless, I was looking for understanding and acceptance, from myself. Did I like who I was?

My house is only a few hundred feet from the railroad tracks, and only a few thousand feet from the center of the town. I can walk to the drugstore, but if I wanted groceries, I would need to walk about a mile. Between the railroad tracks and the drugstore is a little plot of land, which someone years before had taken great pains to make into a nice little park. But, I guess, after that person was no longer around, no one else bothered to keep it in shape. I also live at the crossroad of a highway that goes directly into a much larger town, which is taken by eighteen wheelers whose CB radios come in on my television and computer speakers. In addition, there is a car wash on the other side of the highway. The strange thing about this car wash is watching the people rub-a-dub-dub their cars until sunlight will reflect, but these same people have never been able to hit the garbage barrel directly beside them. But, not only me, the wanna-be park caught a large share of garbage. This means that I end up with all sorts of pretty paper in my yard. Needless to say, I would say some pretty ugly four letter words as I griped about the state of the world. Of course, the park was not my property, so I didn't think much of its upkeep.

September 11, 2001:
The phone rang.
"Momma, turn your tv on!"
"Just turn it on to the Fox News!"

I picked up the remote to turn on the news. I'm thinking,"Great, my son wants me to turn the tv on, which will probably only have CB'ers coming across and I can't hear a thing! You know, I really need to get out and pick up all the garbage that's in the yard." (More mumbling and grumbling.)

What I saw happening before me was...was...I don't know. I see a building engulfed in flames as I hear a voice say something about a plane crash that hit a World Trade Center tower. Why isn't my mind working? Wait, what's that other plane doing so close to the building? Maybe it's a rescue...oh, God, no! Is this for real? What is going on? Another plane crash? I don't understand! The voice on the tv was quite shaken. I tried to turn my mind to the voice so someone could explain to me what was happening. In all my scenarios, not one included some terroist slamming two planes into the WTC. What happened to the reality of my world? What do you mean some plane has crashed in Washington? Oh, no, more carnage from another plane. This time the Pentagon. This really isn't a movie, this is real. I turned the tv off and I went to the bathroom to begin crying after losing my breakfast. Lives end and lives begin.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, soon-to-be the 4th of July 2002. A month ago, the little park area between my house and the drugstore was a site of noise and commotion. I watched as they cut down the pine trees whose limbs would often cause a transformer to blow, meaning I would do without electricity. This is great, maybe when the wind blows my lights won't go off! Hey, they're finally getting rid of that old cedar tree, which had been hit so many times by thunderstorms that it was more of a tree growing on the ground. Would you look at that! They are building a little gazebo! That looks great!

Many people worked for the next three weeks, morning till late at night. It was probably because I had become accustomed to the noise that their later workings went unnoticed, but I continued to complain about CB's, garbage, and any other subject I felt needed to be complained about.

It's one of those nights when my mind is full of things I consider wrong with the world. I went to the refigerator and noticed a bright light. The microwave glows with the time of 1:09 am. Looks like another long night. What is that flying? My eyes quickly opened to a sight of bright lights in the little park. It was beautiful, even at that time of the morning, the largest American flag I have seen in this area of Mississippi. An American flag blowing in the wind, and they've planted some trees and shrubs! I'm thinking, "Someone finally had enough of the sad little wanna-be park and actually did something about it! Finally, someone got something done!"

The next morning I walked to take a look at the new decorating. It was as beautiful now as it was last night. There were new shrubs, and young cedar trees. I went to the gazebo, which had been given a concrete walkway, and found a headstone. I was stunned.

It read:

In Memory of Lt. Col. Jerry Dickerson and Joe Ferguson who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

These two souls were graduates of the local high school - Durant High School. They were hometown, downhome in a small town, but they had been successful where I had failed. Both were exceptionally intelligent, bright, and had success stories, which were an inspiration to those students now attending the same high school. They had accomplished a dream that only a few will ever know, but which many, if not all, are attempting to achieve.

Lt. Col. Jerry Dickerson was working in the end of the Pentagon that had been hit by the commercial airplane. Joe Ferguson was on the commercial plane that crashed into the end of the Pentagon where Lt. Col. Dickerson was stationed. It happened that quickly to both of these admirable hometown boys - they went together. These two hometown, downhome souls were gone, but they helped a smalltown find itself again. They caused a wanna-be park to become "Liberty Park." Did they enter this world knowing what their fate would be? If they did, would they have accepted it? I believe they would.

As for me, there's not so much garbage in my yard that I can't pick it up without complaining. Besides, Liberty Park will stay clean and beautiful, regardless.