Prayer service promotes togetherness, remembrance

The scene of the Cry Out America - Pray and Patriot Day 9/11 prayer rally at the Putnam County Courthouse was one of unity.

On the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, there was singing, prayer and togetherness. Local residents stood side by side with Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputies, members of the Palatka Fire Department and other community leaders to honor the memory of 9/11 victims.

Those in attendance listened to scripture and sang songs such as “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.” The prayer rally celebrated the memory of those whose lives were lost on 9/11 and provided motivation to the community to continue standing together in trying times.

The prayer rally was organized by Jesten Peters, who serves as the Putnam County coordinator for Cry Out America, Patriot Day 9/11. Peters partnered with  Central Putnam Ministerial Association to host the service.

“I appreciate all those who took part, and I appreciate our county for allowing us to hold the National Day of Prayer and the Cry Out America prayer services each year,” Peters said. “We are already thinking of ways to improve both prayer services next year for more comfort for those attending.”

One of the several pastors who spoke at the event was Mt. Tabor First Baptist Church Pastor, the Rev. Karl N. Flagg. Flagg spoke on the importance of honoring the memory of 9/11 victims and the importance of unity within the community.

“As we acknowledge God today and throughout this land, we are coming together,” Flagg said. “To pray together, to walk together, to talk together and to have conversations concerning the crisis in our great nation.”

The prayer rally also gave veterans residing in Palatka a glimpse of the support they receive from the community.

One of the veterans who participated in the prayer rally was WWII Navy veteran and Palatka resident Charles LaFountaine, 93. He said the rally and the entire day meant a great deal to him.

“What does it mean to me? It means everything to me,” LaFountaine said. “I tried to give my life to make this world a wonderful world. And today, we celebrate much of that.”

LaFountaine, fitted with a WWII veteran’s hat, spoke with gratitude in his voice as the prayer rally came to a close. LaFountaine’s pride was not only for his country, but also for his local community.

“The community support is wonderful, really” LaFountaine said. “To be able to express the way we feel and others feel makes it easier for us who have suffered some of the consequences of (war).”

Those in attendance at the prayer rally who were not first responders or serve in the military still appreciated the sentiment of the event and the importance of the togetherness of the community.

The prayer rally gave all attendees a chance to stand and pray alongside local first responders and veterans. It was an experience characterized by many in the crowd as humbling and joyful.

“To me, personally, it is very humbling,” Palatka resident Nancy Sherer said. “Today is a patriotic day, and it is a good day that we ought to give thanks to the Lord.”

Others in attendance at the prayer rally thought the prayer service was an opportunity for the entire country to improve upon itself, advocated using prayer to do so. One of these people was Palatka resident Lori McColley.

“It is a great time for us as a nation to humble ourselves and cry out to God that we definitely need him in this country,” McColley said. “Ever since we’ve not been doing that so much as a nation, I think that our country is just slipping further and further into chaos. So we really need (God).”

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