Dawson County paused last week to remember those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"This is the time for Dawson County to pause and reflect on the events that happened 13 years ago this morning that changed our lives forever," said Dawson County Fire Chief Lanier Swafford during the Patriot Day Remembrance Ceremony at Fire Station No. 1.
"I've said many times that this was the Pearl Harbor of this generation. It changed how Americans lived, it changed our fears and it changed our realities ... Today brave men across this globe still stand to protect our freedom."
The ceremony is Dawson County's emergency response workers' way of continuing the commitment to "never forget" an event that will forever stay with the lives of every American.
"On behalf of myself, [Emergency Services] Director Billy Thurmond and the men and women of Dawson County Emergency Services and Sheriff Billy Carlisle and the sheriff's office, we want to recognize those first responders in the county and across the country," Swafford said.
Lighthouse Baptist Church Pastor Charles Blackstock served as guest chaplain for the event.
"Sept. 11 is the day the changed our lives and a day that, today, we pause to remember," he said. "Many remember where you were on that day, remember the events of your life distinctly where you were when you got the news."
Blackstock's message was one of reflection on the fallen first responders.
"Here we are, gathered together, these many years later to stop and pause and remember those events. Of the 2,977 of those killed that day, 414 of them were emergency workers who responded to the towers that day," he said.
"On that day, 241 firefighters and two paramedics from the New York City Fire Department, 37 police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 23 police officers from the New York City Police Department, eight emergency medical technicians, paramedics and hospital workers from New York all lost their lives."
But the ceremony was not just for those who died, but also for the first responders who still serve.
"We look back on the heroism of that day and pause to remember the sacrifice of these men and women. The events of that day did not define them as heroes; it just revealed them as heroes," Blackstock said.
"Looking back on this day, these actions have become iconic about what it means to be a first responder, what it means to place your lives in the line of duty for the protection of other citizens."
And that, according to Blackstock, is what these ceremonies are truly about.