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Honoring Service, Sacrifice

Military personnel, first responders lauded

Tears and tributes flowed during the weekend in Locust Grove, as part of the Henry County 9/11 Remembrance Candlelight Ceremony.

Hundreds –– young and old, alike –– gathered on the lawn at Locust Grove City Hall.

Veterans, including a group from World War II, were recognized for their service to the country. Military personnel from other wars, and conflicts, including the Vietnam War, were recognized. First responders –– including firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians –– were honored, too.

"Tonight, we gathered to recall one of the defining moments in the history of our nation," said Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer, of the ceremony. "On that day, grief and anger overtook us all. We were not Republicans or Democrats, we were not divided by race, or gender. We were all Americans, and we were united by a sense of a righteous fury."

When hijacked commercial airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, and shortly thereafter, another plane hit the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, the terrorist attacks exacted a heavy toll among military personnel and first responders.

"Three hundred and forty-three New York City firefighters and (emergency medical technicians) lost their lives that day; your Henry County Fire Department firefighters are not that different," said Henry County Interim Fire Chief Bill Lacy. "I'm excited that people have this level of remembrance for a day when our country lost so much."

Lacy told the crowd his department has received more than $2 million in grant funds for programs that were developed as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Henry County Commissioner Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis thanked Locust Grove for recognizing first responders and the military. "Many of our children and grandchildren are too young to remember the events of 9/11, but it is important that we talk to them about the life-changing events of that day," Mathis said, "so that we, as a country, never forget what happened."

"If we could go back to the days following the 9/11 attacks ... and remember how peaceful it was, and have that kind of fellowship with each other forever, that would be the ultimate reward for the ones who gave their lives," said Brad Johnson, Operations Division Chief of the Henry County Fire Department.

"We are one nation under God, and God can carry us through anything," said Locust Grove Police Chief Jesse Patton.