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story.lead_photo.caption Community members gathered at the Arkansas 9/11 Memorial in El Dorado on Sept. 11, 2019 to honor those who died in the attacks. Another memorial ceremony will be held this Friday. (News-Times file)

There will be a ceremony commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Spetember 11, 2001 terrorist attacks this Friday at the Arkansas 9/11 Memorial on the south lawn of the El Dorado Conference Center at 12:30 p.m.

“We will highlight the steel artifact we have here in El Dorado; we will recognize the 3,000-plus individuals that were killed. We will recognize the first responders that were killed that day, the emergency responders we have here, as well as the military we have here,” Sterling Claypoole, Curator of the 9/11 Memorial, said.

Because this year marks the 19th anniversary of this tragic event, the theme will be nineteen. There will be a lot of objects in the number of 19, including the American Flag.

Because of the restrictions around COVID-19, they are not anticipating a lot of people coming, but the event is open to the public, Claypoole said.

“It is hard to imagine it has been 19 years since 9/11,” Claypoole stated.

He is also a professor of psychology at the South Arkansas Community College, and the importance of still having commemoration ceremonies for this historic event became clear as he taught.

“No one in my class is older than 20 years old. I have a lot of 18 year olds that weren’t born when 9/11 happened. So me being the ‘old’ guy in the room, I remember it,” Claypoole said. “And because we have a whole generation that wasn’t even alive when it happened, it is important to make them aware and a part of that history.”

He said he thinks the importance of 9/11 should be broadened and recognized by everyone.

“In every cycle of history, we have a magnitudinal event that changes the landscape of our country. And 9/11 was one of those. It changed how we operate, travel, do security, and it led to a war where even more Americans lost their lives,” Claypoole said. “So this piece of steel not only represents history but it also represents the fortitude our country has to overcome and to move forward.”

Fortitude is a message Claypoole believes is important during these current times.

“We have a 700 pound piece of steel from tower one here in El Dorado. That should inspire everyone to know that our country can overcome tragedy. Just like we’re facing in today’s society with the pandemic, with the racial unrest and protests, we can come together as a country,” Claypoole explained. “We can make the right decisions with the right leaders and direction and be successful.”

The Arkansas 9/11 Memorial is intricate and a lot of thought was put into its development., including inscribing the names of the four Arkansans that lost their lives that day. Benches dedicated to the three Navy and Army men that were specifically from El Dorado who lost their lives in the war on terror are also part of the memorial.

Sterling Claypoole encourages anyone who wants more information about the specifics of the memorial design to set up a memorial tour with the El Dorado Conference Center, where they can learn more about the memorial’s development.

The monument is located on the grounds of the El Dorado Conference Center, 311 S. West Ave, on the corner of Locust and West.

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