It is appropriate that Union County honors its first responders and military personnel on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 because it is they who, at a moment’s notice, will risk and even lay down their lives to protect and rescue the rest of us from those whose overriding obsession is to perpetrate terror.
Police officers and sheriff’s deputies, volunteer and professional firefighters, EMS and fire rescue and, of course, the men and women of our armed forces are always on the front lines in the war that began on Sept. 11, 2001. While most people were fleeing disasters at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the first responders — police officers and firefighters and medical personnel — were charging into those infernos in an attempt to save lives. Far too many of them lost their lives in the process.
When it became apparent that what was happening was no accident, the military sprang into action to secure this country from further attack. In the years that followed, America’s fighting men and women would do more than just secure this country, they would defend it by going on the offensive against the fanatics who perpetrated the 9/11 atrocity and they would do so in some of the most forbidding places on earth. Like the first responders on 9/11, they went into places the rest would not, and they did so to save the lives of their fellow Americans. Again, far too many of them have lost their lives in the process.
Even as they sacrificed their lives, they saved lives. How many would have died on 9/11 had it not been for those first responders rushing in while others fled? How many Americans would have died at the hands of the terrorists had American service men and women not carried the battle to them?
We’ll never know for certain, but what we do know is that without our first responders and military personnel, the terrorists who have been able to act with impunity and turn every day into 9/11.
That remains the goal of our enemies. They have tried in the years since to achieve that goal, but have failed thanks to our military personnel taking the battle to them overseas and our law enforcement first responders keeping a close watch here at home. At the same time, our firefighters, EMS, fire rescue and other first responders have been preparing, in close cooperation with their law enforcement counterparts, for the possibility of another terrorist attack.
We owe 10 years of warfare to the terrorists, but we owe the fact that there has not been another 9/11 to our first responders and military personnel. They have worked tirelessly to keep us safe from our enemies. So it is fitting that on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, a decade after 9/11, Union County honor its first responders and military personnel for their continued service to this community and honor the memory those who, both at home and abroad, gave their lives in service to their communities and this nation.