Thomas University has special speaker at 9/11 service - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thomas University has special speaker at 9/11 service

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

September 11, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - People of all ages gathered on the lawn at Thomas University Thursday morning to honor the men and women who died on September 11, 2001.

Sgt. Lester Hayes was the keynote speaker Thursday morning. He served 30 years in the army. Now he's a student at Thomas University.

"To be able to come back and share your heart with people and share the emotions and really feel what it was like to have been there to me is very stimulating its empowering it motivates people, it rallies people," said Hayes.

Every eye was on Hayes as he told his emotional story of how he remembers that day. He was serving in Washington D.C. and on his way to the Pentagon for a meeting.

"That particular morning I received a phone call from a friend," he says.

But it wasn't just any phone call. It delayed his trip to the Pentagon, which minutes later was crashed into by a plane, taking the lives of several of his friends and colleagues.

"I just believe it was a very divine moment for me, and a lot of things fell into perspective. It broke me to know that I could have been there," said Hayes.

Many people in the crowd don't have a direct connection to the attacks. That's why they attend services like this one.

"I think what hurts me the most is since I didn't go through what those people did, it's important to show my respect for those who did and show them I would stand behind them as an American and that everyone here would as well," says Stephanie Poulk, a student in the crowd.

This is the 3rd service Thomas University has hosted. And President Gary Bonvillian says he plans on keeping the event alive.

"Much like our speaker said today, we can't forget what happened that day," says President Bonvillian.

 No one ever will. But today not only did the crowd remember, they honored: our community, our troops, and our country.

Sgt. Lester Hayes now pastors a church in his hometown in Cairo.  Feedback