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Community remembers Sept. 11 at annual Patriot Day ceremony
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A wreath was laid in honor of the men and women who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack during a ceremony conducted by Dawson County Emergency Services Tuesday morning. - photo by Jessica Taylor

It was a somber overcast day as the community gathered at Fire Station No. 1 Tuesday morning to remember those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center 17 years ago.

The annual Patriot Day ceremony hosted by the Dawson County Emergency Services was held on the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the world and served to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others.

“Remembering these today is what Patriots Day is about. It’s remembering the lives lost, the absence of a community. If you look at the number of civilians and first responders who lost their lives that day, it’s a very tragic incident we can never take back,” said DCES Director Danny Thompson.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 the North and South Towers were struck by American Airlines flight 11 and United flight 175, the Pentagon was struck by American Airlines flight 77 and American Airlines flight 93 was derailed by the passengers and crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“Images of the World Trade Center Towers collapsing will be engrained into our memories, our hearts and souls,” Thompson said as he addressed the crowd.

During the attacks, 2,977 civilians, 343 New York City firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers were killed and over 6,000 others were injured.

Patriot Day was created as a national day of mourning and remembrance in October 2001 with the introduction of Resolution 71 in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Sept. 4, 2002, President George W. Bush used the authority of the resolution to proclaim Sept. 11, 2002 the first Patriot Day.

Since the establishment of Patriot Day, communities across the nation have gathered together to remember the lives lost in the events of Sept. 11.

Transmissions from the first responders in New York City were played during Tuesday’s service and moments of silence were held on the minutes the North and South Towers were struck.

“In a day and a time in which we have hero status given to many, their faces may not be used to advertise athletic apparel, but truly we call them heroes,” said guest speaker Chaplin Charles Blackstock as he spoke about the first responders. “They truly sacrificed all for what they believed in. We should appreciate that today. The events of that day did not define them as heroes; it just revealed them as such.”

As veterans, law enforcement officers, high school students and students from Robinson Elementary School listened to the ceremony, Thompson reminded those gathered of the first responders and the reason Patriot Day is honored.

 “On this day fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters gave their lives – putting strangers’ families before their very own,” Thompson said. ““The brave men and women of the New York City Fire Department that day put their selves before others, responded to that alarm knowing many of them probably would not go home.”

A ceremonial wreath was laid that symbolizes the lives that were lost 17 years ago, and a bell was rung to signify the last call to order for the fallen first responders.

“May we as a county and as a community never forget the great sacrifices made 17 years ago because in doing so we also remember to be grateful for today’s heroes as well,” Blackstock said.