GARLAND — Pamela Hobbs remembers talking to her cousin Tara Yvette Hobbs days before Sept. 11, 2001.
During their telephone conversation they chatted together and discussed the importance of staying together as a family. Pamela did not know that it would be the last time hearing Tara’s voice. Hobbs was working as claims representative and insurance broker on the 98th floor of a World Trade Center building, when the planes hit the second tower in Manhattan. Her life ended at the age of 31.
Under a cloudy sky Friday morning, community members came together at Rotary Park to remember Tara and the thousands of victims who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 after terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked planes and crashed them in New York City, Washington D.C. and near Shanksville, Pa.
“So many families are falling apart and when situations like this happen, we wish that we would have stayed a little closer,” Pamela said while stressing the importance of keeping in touch.
Mayor Winifred Murphy pointed out how New York, a city with a population of 8.4 million, is more than 500 miles away. But there’s a connection remains when it comes to paying homage to those who perished and their families.
“We commit ourselves to carrying a torch of love, hope and faith within our small town and our small community, to give to each other unselfishly and to claim the spirit of unity,” Murphy said about spreading love to defeat evilness.
Later during the program, Murphy said many community members did not know Tara, but said her spirit is still with them.
“She did not grow up in Garland or Sampson County, but this was her home,” Murphy said.
Her parents, Dennis and Dixie, live in the area and had a room set up in their home for Tara. They were looking forward to many visits. Along with Pamela, Tara’s aunt Jeraldine Donatien spoke on behalf of the family during the commemoration. They said Tara had a smile “as broad as the ocean.”
Following the placement of a Red, White and Blue wreath and the lowering of the flag, there was a moment of silence for Tara and the victims.
Mary Brown, Facilitator for the North Carolina Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program, acknowledged the attendees and said their presence shows that they care.
“Your presence speaks loudly of a godly concern for others,” Brown said. “Our presence confirms to the parents, Dennis and Dixie, that we too are saddened by the absence of Tara. As we reflect on September, 14 years ago we will never forget the horror that changed our world – unspeakable and comprehensive moments.
However, Brown said citizens throughout the nation are being reminded “that there is a God throughout the storm.”
“Our God is presence with us now,” Brown said. “God bless the Hobbs family and God bless America.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.