Lake City First Baptist honors hometown heroes
The First Baptist Church in Lake City Remembered 9/11, 2001, by honoring local men and women who serve on the fire department, first responders, police department, and ambulance service on 9/11, 2017.
Pastor Rick Davis welcomed the special guests and their families calling each one present by name.
“We are thankful for guys like you,” he said. “If you did not love people, you would not be out there. I know many times you guys have a thankless job. When the sirens go off, you go putting your lives at risk for others. Thank you.”
Lake City has 24 firefighters. Chris Snyder serves as fire chief.
Lake City has 16 first responders, two medics and five EMTs.
Following the dinner, Davis introduced guest speaker Adam Staples of Walnut Ridge. Staples is a native of Piggott. He and his family live in Walnut Ridge where he has a State Farm Agency.
Staples was at the World Trade Center in 2001 when the attack took down the Twin Towers in New York.
“This is the fourth time today I have been asked to tell my 9/11 story,” Staples said. “It is humbling to stand here in front of you firefighters. When I was going down the 61 flights of stairs on 9/11 I met the firemen going up the stairs.”
He said when he got to the ground police officers were standing there holding the door helping them to get out.
Staples was attending training to be a stock broker. He had plans to be in New York for three weeks. He arrived on Sept. 9 went to his first class on Sept. 10, had the opportunity to run in Central Park but everything changed the next morning when he returned to the World Trade Center.
He had gone to the cafeteria when the first plane hit the north tower. They were told it was secure and they could go back up to the office in the south tower. They soon discovered it was more serious and started back down.
Staples said somewhere between the 33rd and 40th floor it narrowed to one stairwell.
“When I was 10 flights up I thought, I have made it this close and may not make it out,” he said. “When the port authority was guiding us out I looked back and saw the giant hole where the plane had gone into the building.”
There was a woman on a cell phone and he tried to ask her to call his parents, but he found out later it was several hours before they knew he was okay. He tried to get back to the hotel but there was a jet engine in the middle of the street. He tried to stop at a pay phone to let his family know he was okay but he couldn't get through.
By then he had heard of the airplane crashing into the Pentagon.
When he finally made it to the motel and knocked on the door his friends were already there.
“They were happy I was okay,” he said.
He then called his office and gave the receptionist names and numbers to call. His boss got on the phone and said, “Call your mom.”
“My mother was in Piggott and my dad was in Little Rock watching it unfold,” he said. “My dad was at Camp Robinson. He is now a retired Sgt. Major. It was three hours from the first building being hit until I was able to let my parents know I was okay. I know it was probably the longest three hours of their lives. My mother's mother, the closest person I know to Jesus, said she prayed and it was over. That is my 9/11 story.”
He went on to quote scriptures from Luke with Jesus telling about the tower falling and from Mark about men carrying a paralyzed man.
“You guys are in a noble profession,” he said. “I suspect all of you are believers. The only thing relevant about me is Christ.”
He went on to say Christ is the only thing he has to offer.
“Thank you for the job you do,” Staples said.
He opened the floor for questions. He was asked if he was a Christian before 9/11. His answer was he was a Christian but had not surrendered his life. Other questions included how long it took to get down the stairs - 26 minutes from when the plane hit until he went out the door. How long did it take to get back to Arkansas? "We were picked up in a van and drove all night getting back to Arkansas on Sept. 13." Have you been back to Ground Zero? "Yes, I looked at the 13 acres that encompassed the World Trade Center with 30,000 people there every day."
Ron Nunnally with the Lake City Fire Department thanked him for sharing his story.
“It has been an honor to stand before you all,” Staples said. “I sincerely thank you.”