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Tragedy to triumph: Dawson County remembers 9/11, celebrates lives
A-Patriot Day pic 1
Dawson Countys first responders stand at attention during Fridays ceremony to remember and celebrate lives lost during and after the events on Sept. 11, 2001. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

Dawson County continues to remember those lost both during a fateful attack on America 14 years ago and in the line of duty in general.

Citizens, students, police and emergency service workers took time Friday morning to gather at Fire Station No. 1 to remember the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 - a day now known to Americans as Patriot Day.

"Fourteen years ago today, many people remember where they were. If you were alive that day, it is an event that will stick in your mind forever," Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said to the gathered crowd. "Previous generations remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the assassination of President [John F.] Kennedy, but for this generation, where you were on Sept. 11, 2001 will forever be etchedon our mind."

Of the 2,977 victims killed in the 2001 attacks, 343 were firefighters, 60 were police officers and eight were emergency medical technicians or paramedics in New York City who responded to the World Trade Center.

"We know that day that almost 3,000 lives were taken senselessly. Of that almost 3,000, 343 of our brothers and sisters at the New York fire department paid the ultimate sacrifice as they performed their duties diligently on that fateful day," Swafford said. "We pause this morning to remember all of those that died not only on that day, but since that day in the fight to keep America free -not only oversees, but overseas, as well. The day we know today is much different than when we awoke from our beds 14 years ago."

Dawson County Emergency Services Chaplain Charles Blackstock gave the address for the ceremony.

"I'm proud that our county pauses to remember and pay tribute to the lives lost and sacrifices made on Sept. 11, 2001 and those years since that day," he said. "I believe that gratitude requires a good memory. It's hard for us to be thankful for something we don't think about. As we stop to be grateful, we stop to remember sacrifices made and lives lost."

Blackstock took a moment to tell stories he had gathered over the past 14 years, of people who lost their lives in the line of duty, rescuing and saving others.

"These people represent not just individuals that day, but all of the first responders...that put their lives in harm's way," he said. "They represent the many that died that day, but also represent the epitome of what it means to be a first responder - an individual that responds to the needs of others and reaches out to help them."

Blackstock charged the crowd to be thankful for those that gave and still give their lives to protect.

"It's not just a ceremony to remember, but to remind us, as well. We have our part to do, as well. We have a part to play in securing the freedoms and protecting the things we cherish," he said. "Today is a day for us to be appreciative for not only what was done, but also what is being done."