Local emergency responders and community leaders marked the 11th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 upon the United States with a “Hometown Heroes” ceremony in Willis Park on Tuesday. Listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as performed by Lt. J.C. “Buddy” Johnson of the Georgia State Patrol are, from left to right, volunteer firefighter and chaplain Dewitt Phillips, Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds, Bainbridge Public Safety Director Eric Miller, assistant district attorney Benny Harrell, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin and Dit Albritton, manager of the City of Bainbridge’s Main Street program.
 

Patriot Day observed on Square

Published 2:35pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bainbridge observed Patriot Day with a ceremony recognizing local “Hometown Heroes” in Willis Park on Tuesday.

Community and law enforcement leaders spoke about the valued service of emergency responders, and businesses across the city flew their flags at half-mast, to mark the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on the United States.

Benny Harrell, an assistant district attorney, said that while Patriot Day is primarily intended to “remember the action of the heroes on that day,” the observance can also serve to pay tribute to the survivors of September 11 and local heroes, as well as those that have fallen in the line of duty.

“Today, we honor those that work in the spirit of selflessness and sacrifice,” Harrell said. “We honor them before the next crisis happens, because they go to work knowing that each day could be their personal September 11.”

Harrell recalled the tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks and compared the actions of the heroes in New York City to what police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and others face on a daily basis.

“We saw those heroes answer the call of duty in the face of death,” Harrell said. “They made others’ emerency and danger their own and many of them sacrificed their lives for strangers.”

The Bainbridge High School Air Force Jr. ROTC Color Guard presented the flags of the United States and Georgia.

Sheriff Wiley Griffin said first responders — including 911 dispatchers and volunteer firefighters as well as police officers and Sheriff’s deputies — are “all too often unsung heroes.”

“I ask that the next time you hear that siren screaming as that emergency vehicle comes toward your car, that you pull over to the side of the road; pause and reflect on the situation at hand,” Griffin said. “Remind yourself that the people in that emergency vehicle are your neighbors, your friends, coworkers or members of your community.”

Bainbridge Public Safety Director Eric Miller said he believed it takes a special type of person to be a Public Safety officer, who is trained for both firefighting and law enforcement. Miller said Public Safety officers are “dedicated to more than themselves” and are fortunate to have a supportive community behind them.

Lt. J.C. “Buddy” Johnson of the Georgia State Patrol, who is from Colquitt, Ga., sang the national anthem to open the ceremony and later sang “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” a song inspired by Sept. 11 by country singer Alan Jackson.

Dewitt Phillips, a local volunteer firefighter and chaplain, said a prayer.

The Bainbridge High School Air Force Jr. ROTC Color Guard presented the flags of the United States and Georgia.

The Bainbridge High School concert band, led by Decatur County Director of Bands Paschal Ward, performed patriotic music prior to the ceremony.

A firefighter’s turnout gear laid at the base of the flagpole in Willis Park during the ceremony; it was placed there to honor local and national emergency responders who have fallen in the line of duty.

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