Although the ceremonies were separate,
they each echoed the same resounding theme. A deep, sincere
thank-you and a show of respect were paid to those who serve the
community and to those who have fallen while doing what they would
refer to as simply their jobs.
"It feels good to be appreciated," said
Penny Thomas, a Logan County paramedic.
That appreciation was shown throughout
Lincoln on Thursday.
The honors began at 9 a.m. in front of
Lincoln's post office. Chuck Rutschke, the supervisor of customer
service at the post office, presented a framed plaque of the "Heroes
of 2001" stamp to the heroes of Lincoln and Logan County. Logan
County Paramedic Association CEO Steve Siltman, Logan County Sheriff
Steve Nichols, ESDA Director Dan Fulscher, Lincoln Police Chief Rich
Montcalm, Lincoln Rural Fire Department Chief Bob Thomas and Lincoln
City Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Miller received the
plaques on behalf of their departments.
The heroes stamp is a semi-postal
stamp. They sell at a higher rate than first class stamps. Money
raised by the sale of these stamps will go to help the families of
the emergency relief personnel who died or were permanently disabled
in the line of duty in connection with the attacks on Sept. 11.
Dan Fulscher of ESDA commented for the
group when he said, "Only in America can we be standing across from
the courthouse remembering what happened two years ago today and
continue to feel free."
Lincoln's assistant fire chief, Mark
Miller, said that the two years have gone by fast. He grieves the
loss of his brothers in the fire service, and we need to pay respect
to the people fighting for our country and those serving in the
At noon the residents of the Maple
Ridge Care Centre paid tribute to Lincoln and Logan County local
heroes. Michelle Eyrse, the administrator at Maple Ridge, said that
the resident council decided at their last meeting to do something
to pay their respects. First Health Care Corporation helped them
with their presentation.
A grilled chicken lunch was served and
was attended by the local heroes and the people who reside at the
home. The Rev. Glenn Shelton opened the ceremony with prayer and the
song "God Bless America." He said it is good to be here. "We thank
God. It could have been worse, but we are Americans."
[to top of second column in this
State Sen. Larry Bomke said to the
honorees, "We respect what you do."
Bomke also said, "We cannot understand
why people hate us. In some countries people with differences of
opinion, religion and race kill each other, while in America we
respect each other."
The ceremony ended with the "ringing of
the bell" by Assistant Fire Chief Mark Miller. The ringing of the
bell is a tradition of the firefighters. The bell signifies the
firefighters' last call and is rung three times.
The members of each department were
presented with a statue of the American eagle with the American
At 6:30 p.m. the city firehouse
ceremony took place. Before the backdrop of a large American flag
hoisted up by the firetruck ladders, people assembled to again show
their respect and gratitude to those who serve Lincoln. Mayor Beth
Davis welcomed everyone, and Curtis Sutterfield opened with a prayer
Logan County Assistant State's Attorney
Jonathan Wright addressed the dedicated police, firefighters,
paramedics and emergency responders. Wright said that he had asked
himself why we remember.
In answer he said: "We remember for two
reasons. To appreciate the present is one reason that we remember.
Before us we see heroes. They may not look the same as those in New
York but they are the same. The heart of the firefighter is the same
in New York as it is in Lincoln, Ill., as it is in Lincoln, Neb., as
it is in Los Angeles, Calif. The heart of the police and the EMT is
the same from coast to coast. We came to say thank you.
"Another reason to remember is not to
just remember a date, a place and a time, but we as adults have a
responsibility to teach the next generation about 9/11 so that it is
more than just a date a place and a time -- to teach them that 9/11
was an attack that was overcome by courage and by love."
The ceremony closed with a 21-gun
salute, the ringing of the bell, taps and bagpipes playing "Amazing
"I remember 9/11 all too well," Logan
County Sheriff Steve Nichols said. "It was my father's birthday, and
after the terrorist attacks we no longer felt like celebrating."
Lincoln did celebrate the value and worth of those who serve them.
People talked again of valor and with pride in their hometown heroes
while quietly reflecting about how lucky they are to be Americans.