Each September, U.S. citizens pause in remembrance of lives lost on America’s latest date of infamy when terrorists assaulted the core of this nation’s spirit of freedom.
Garry Hood speaks with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg before the 9/11 memorial service begins Sept. 11, 2012, in downtown Manhattan. (Photo submitted)
And each 9/11, a 1977 Middle Tennessee State University graduate orchestrates the nation’s memorial service at ground zero, where thousands of patriotic American mourners gather quietly, respectfully, as names of the terrorist victims are read – the names forever echoing softly into the wind at the corner of New York’s Church and Vesey streets, where the World Trade Center’s twin towers crumbled into a permanent ashen grave for the more than 3,000 lives lost when terrorists last struck America’s homeland.
World-acclaimed stage manager Garry Hood, who is the son of Murfreesboro residents Marilyn and John Douglass Hood, has been at the center of annual the 9/11 memorial 10 of the 11 years since the attack led by terrorist the late Osama Bin Laden, who was finally brought to justice by American Special Forces on orders in May 2011 by President Barack Obama.
This latest Sept. 11, 2012, memorial was different, perhaps even more reverent due to the absence of politicians, Hood said. The mayor of New York was noticed by his absence, for example.
“This year was the most somber of ceremonies I’ve been asked to produce at ground zero,” said 58-year-old Hood, a 1972 graduate of Murfreesboro’s old Central High School. “The reading of the names stirs your soul, as the wind swirls among the sky-scraper buildings of downtown New York …
“Although I’ve been involved in the 9/11 Memorial 10 of the 11 years, it’s the first time I’ve actually stood on hallowed Ground Zero ground at the now-completed twin 9/11 Memorial Pools,” Hood acknowledged. “And it was the first year no political figures were invited to the memorial service.”
The veteran stage manager and producer acknowledged having strong stirring, yet “mixed with sad emotions” for the 9/11 memorial service assignment.
“The grace, the dignity, the somber remembrances. You have all the mixed emotions that a mortal human being can have, including a strong sense of patriotism, and pride and thankfulness of being a citizen of the United States,” described Hood, who was named an MTSU Distinguished Alumnus in 2004.
Although most American television viewers don’t recognize Hood by name, millions worldwide have watched his work.
“As a stage manager over the past 30-plus years, my career includes more than 20 Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the CMA Awards as well as opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics,” Hood accounted. “However, I confess being the ‘most nervous’ when asked to help produce the 9/11 memorial each year.
“It’s the most somber moment of my life, professionally,” Hood noted with obvious emotion. “I thought of my twin sons, 16-year-olds Cooper and Grady and their future freedoms, as I stood over the Twin Pools constructed as a permanent memorial to the victims lost on 9/11.”
After the 9/11 memorial production and spending a few days with his twins, Hood was global hopping again, this time to Baku, Azerbaijan, to help produce opening ceremonies for FIFA Soccer, perhaps the worlds’ most wide-spread organized sport.
Nashville resident Hood’s current leave from this nation’s stage will be short-lived, as he prepares to stage manage and produce the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate to be nationally televised in October.
“We’re proud of Garry, you understand, but we have pride in all three children for excelling in their respective careers,” retired Murfreesboro banker and former state Rep. John Hood acknowledged.
Garry’s younger brother, Mark, is a loan consultant for the First National Bank of McMinnville with offices in Murfreesboro, and Franklin resident Rebecca Hood Hagan works for Williamson County Schools.
Garry started his stage production career as a modest “MTSU intern and cue card holder” during filming of the 1970s-era “Hee Haw,” a historically popular Nashville-based country music and comedic entertainment show that still airs today nationally on the RFD Cable TV Network headquartered in Music City.