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Manchester veterans groups honor first responders during annual 9/11 ceremony

Posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

John Coffelt, Staff Writer

 Local veterans groups, community members and leaders gathered Wednesday to remember those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and to honor area first responders.

Steve Graves

Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves accepts a Patriot of the Year award from Eugene Warren with the American Legion Wednesday at the Coffee County Courthouse. (Staff photo by John Coffelt)

“Nearly 3,000 people were killed [12 years ago]. Four hundred and eleven of them were first responders – men and women who rushed into those buildings while others were trying to rush out,” said Rob Moreland, American Legion, Post 78 Adjutant.

“We have gathered to remember them and to honor and thank all our local first responders and those selected to represent them. We cannot forget those who are this moment are putting themselves in harms way on our behalf as members of the Armed Forces.”

Sheriff Steve Graves accepted a patriot of the year award and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Graves, sheriff since 1998, has passed on the nomination in past years. According to American Legion Commander Eugene Warren, presenting the award, employees under Graves have recommended him for the award three years in a row, but that this year they refused to let him refuse.

Manchester Vice mayor Ryan French said, “Days like today are burned into our psyche for the rest of our lives. I know for our generation, this was our doomsday.”

He said that as a fifteen-year-old in 2001, he could remember a pre- and post-9/11 world.

“It’s been a dramatic change…. But days like today, and days like Dec. 7 give us reason to celebrate days like July 4.”

County Mayor David Pennington personally thanked the gathered personnel for the good job they do.

“Coffee County is really fortunate to have the fine men and women we do. I see it every day.”

State Rep. Judd Matheny moved from the attacks in New York, Washington and Flight 92 to discuss the attacks of U.S. compounds in Libya.

“I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about not forgetting, not only what happened 12 years ago, but what happened last year in Benghazi [Libya],” Matheny said.

“Folks, our country still has not settled that issue. We still have not settle the issue from 12 years ago. Now it is impacting each and every one of us individually on a daily basis.

“We have to us the memories of life prior to 9/11 and the memory of the life afterward to mold the future for ourselves.”

He charged the gathered to “hold [their] federal officials accountable for the actions they are taking and for the lack of action they are taking.”

He closed by urging that the loss of both attacks not be in vain.

“It is that important. Do not let those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 nor those that died one year ago today in Benghazi to go in vain.

“Our government is trying to cover it up on a federal level and we cannot allow it to happen. It’s up to each and everyone as individuals – because I tell you now, there is no Calvary coming. It is up to us not to forget.”

Four Americans died, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two embassy security personnel, former Navy SEALSs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and ten other were injured in the attack on a compound and the CIA annex. The FBI investigation has not resulted in any arrests……

Read more in next week’s (Sept. 18) print edition of the Manchester Times.