The Westmore Church of God Choir competed with the bells as they sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and the chests of about 300 Americans swelled with pride.
But, the comforting bells gave way to ear-splitting sounds of sirens of fire trucks, ambulances and police cars responding to an unknown emergency. The sound of emergency vehicles only served — on a peaceful, warm and sunny day — as a heart-wrenching reminder of why the crowd was gathered in downtown Cleveland.
The Cry Out America 2010 prayer service was held Saturday on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Joseph Day and his family were there to watch his son, Michael, who is a member of the JROTC. Day, his wife, Regina and daughters, Hallie and Cynthia Guffey, were also in attendance in observance of the 9/11 tragedy. Day, who was wearing a “God Bless America” T-shirt said Sept. 11, has risen to the level of a solemn holiday for him and his wife, Regina.
“I wish they would make it a holiday,” he said.
Richard Keith was there with his children, Kelsey Johnson, Lindsey Johnson and Cody Denmar, who are all cadets. He said Sept. 11, 2001, was a bad day.
Christopher Propst, a member of the Messianic Jewish Temple of Truth, was there as a resident of Bradley County and to promote the unity of the Christian faith.
“I believe in the unity of the Christian faith,” he said. “I believe in the Father of love, forgiveness and salvation and I believe in the plan and purpose for our nation.” He does not know God’s plan or purpose, but he knows “God established it for his reasons.”
State Rep. Kevin Brooks, wife Kim and son, Zach, opened the service with a prayer that was followed by Scripture readings from Psalm 100 by Scotty Smith. Cleveland City Schools administrator Chuck Rockholt delivered a Cry Out in Praise. Bradley County Schools administrator Sheena Newman lead a Cry Out in Thanksgiving.
Chandler, Zachery and Nicholas Allen sang “City on Her Knees.”
Donnie Yates read from the book of Joel and teacher Carol Dale lead the Cry Out in Repentance. She was followed by students Haily Brewster and Payton Tipton who lead the Litany of National Repentance by “.. acknowledge our role in the spiritual bankruptcy of our nation.”
The litany was followed with a Scripture reading from Judges 2:7-16 by Maranda Dye and K.C. Anderson, which was the focus of the 2010 observance — to raise up another generation of Christian leaders.
Another student, Sierra Green echoed the words of Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for us. I said: Here I am. Send me.”
Student Blaire Terrell read from Jeremiah 1:4-8; and Josh Lastra read Ezekiel 3:17.
Robert Green, Jimmy Harper family, Amanda Fisher, Kurt Miller, James Francis, Will Carder and Cleveland Police Officer Evie Lastra all participated and Candies Creek Baptist Church Pastor Jamie Work invited everyone to ask for salvation.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland proclaimed, “For Cleveland and Bradley County’s sake I will not keep silent. I will not remain quiet, till our righteousness shines out like the dawn, our salvation like a blazing torch.
“Others will see our righteousness, and national leaders our glory. We will be given a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God.
“We will be a stunning crown in the palm of God’s hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of our God.
“No one will ever call us rejected or ruined. We will be called God’s Delight. As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will our God rejoice over us.
“We will post watchmen around our city and county. Day and night we will be praying, calling out, and reminding God to remember us.
“We resolve to give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Cleveland and Bradley County a praise in the earth.
“We believe the Lord’s right hand and His mighty arm will bless our families, government, marketplace, and educational systems. Never again will our resources be depleted but we will be blessed to enjoy what we work so hard to produce and praise God for it.
“Yes, we will broadcast to all the world: “Our Savior is coming, ready to do what He said He would do, prepared to complete what He promised.
“We will be the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord; and we will be called ‘sought after,’ ‘the city never forsaken.’”
State Rep. Eric Watson and his fiancee, Tenille Copeland, ended the program with by reading Joshua 24:14-15 and declaring “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and recognizing emergency response workers.