First responders honored

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Among those on the front row at the 9/11 remembrance Sunday were Clint Williams, Robert Hale, Cory Cardin, Marty Middleton, Cody Street, Jason Davis, Darwin Dickerson, Roy Luna, Bill Thomas and Steve Anderson.

Nearly 250 people gathered in Rock Creek Park on Sunday to honor first responders such as those who lost their lives during terrorist attacks 10 years ago.

"Today we put our lives on pause," Marshall County Tea Party coordinator Sherry Ferguson said to open the remembrance and sound a somber reminder; "If you hit one of us, you hit us all."

And so, the Sunday afternoon gathering took a wider view.

"We want to be a constant reminder" about military service men and women who are from Marshall County and who are on active duty, said Barbara Blackmore of Moms on a Mission before reading the names of those deployed from here to war.

They include Shannon Biggs, James Burton, Aaron Coe, Kendell Lee, Terry Medley, Robert Merrill, Margaret Nash, Pamela Williams Pugh, James Staggs, Christopher Wakham, Charles Hunt, David Rogers, Jeremy Reynolds, Andrew Hawkins, Michael Lovvorn and, leaving next week, Clifford Blackmore.

Asked for his thoughts on the nature of the honor bestowed upon first responders such as the police, fire fighters and other such public employees and volunteers, Lewisburg Police Chief Chuck Forbis recalled a conversation between a departing soldier and a policeman.

The exchange was shortly after 9/11.

"We're getting ready to take care of business. Don't let anything happen to my family."

"Go take care of business. We've got your back. That's what first responders do."

Fire Chief Larry Williams said, "Even though it's a 10-year anniversary, it's like yesterday to us. We lost a lot of family. The feeling is just as strong today as it was."

Among those in the audience was retired Lt. Col. Wesley Browning, who during his military career was part of a joint special operations unit at the Pentagon where, he said, the military knew about Osama bin Laden more than 20 years ago. Browning declined to elaborate on his Air Force work "over European counties behind the Iron Curtain."

Police Chaplain Larry Chatman provided the benediction for the program. He'd served as a volunteer with the Southern Baptist Convention's mobile kitchen feeding thousands of meals to workers at Ground Zero.

Representing the Tennessee National Guard at the ceremony Sunday was Travis McKnight.

"It's been an emotional day," McKnight said.

He'd recently explained to his eight-year-old son, Hunter, what happened some two years before his birth, and why his father has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of the continuing honor for first responders, a Tea Party coordinator has prepared certificates for all departments and volunteer groups of first responders in the county.