Friday, Sept. 12


Lincoln remembers 9/11 and honors
its hometown heroes    
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[SEPT. 12, 2003]  On Sept. 11 Lincoln honored its local heroes. There were three separate ceremonies to pay tribute to those who serve their community as law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and emergency services disaster personnel. From morning till evening the sentiments and honors rang out across the city.

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 community.

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."


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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 flag.

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 and song.

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 Grace."

"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."

On Thursday 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.

[Don Todd]

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