Under the American flag flown at half-staff to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest honored the first responders for their bravery during the tragic day in 2001.
Regardless of the situation, law enforcement officers, firemen and other personnel are ready to take action to save lives, he said. While facing a crowd of them in Clinton, Forest made his appreciation known.
He visited the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday to honor emergency service workers for First Responders Day, an observance signed into law in 2017 by the General Assembly of North Carolina. During his remarks, Forest said it’s the only state to have a state holiday for first responders on 9/11.
“Everyone one of us, as the sheriff was just talking about, remember very vividly where they were at the time our country was being attacked,” Forest said. “We’ll remember that for the rest of our lives, but we’ll also have emblazoned in our minds and in our memories, those visions of firefighters, police officers, first responders — not running away from the scene as those buildings were being attacked, but running towards the scene, where they knew it was somebody in that building who needed their help.”
When first responders take those actions, he said it emphasizes the importance of First Responders Day in the state and saying “thank you” to men and women such as the ones he spoke to during his visit. Forest feels that 99 percent of the public supports them as well.
“Every day you’re putting your lives on the line and we thank you for keeping our freedoms free,” Forest said about the importance of the holiday.
Before Forest’s remarks, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton also spoke about the morning that changed Americans’ lives forever. During a series of attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, The Pentagon in Arlington, Va. and a crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field, close to 3,000 people were killed. More than 6,000 were injured.
“September 11th will always be recognized as one of the worst terrorist events in our history, however it will also be remembered as the day in which first responders showed the world what courage and commitment meant,” Thornton said. “With all the tragedy of that morning, hundreds of first responders rushed to aid strangers, friends and co-workers, not knowing that it would be the final call for many of them.
“Today, we remember those who gave of themselves to help their fellow man with a simple prayer and a moment of silence,” Thornton said before a prayer was led by Sgt. Tim Bass. “To those who serve, thank you and God speed.”
While acknowledging first responders and the ones honored for Sept. 11, Bass also prayed for their families as well.
“Today, 18 years ago, so many lost their lives — they paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Bass said. “Lord, we continue to pray for their families and we pray for every family that sends out their loved ones every day to sacrifice for their communities, for people of this area, and surrounding communities.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.