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Local first responders mark 911 terrorist attacks, honor fallen
RH 911 ceremony
Richmond Hill's 911 ceremony. Photo by Maggie Pearson.

Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. Some in Bryan County took time to remember. Here’s a brief look at events across the county.

Pembroke

In Pembroke, Flanders Morrison Funeral Home hosted its fifth annual North Bryan First Responders Lunch, an event that has taken place on Sept. 11 since 2015.

“We do it as a thank you to the first responders for what they do,” said Flanders Morrison employee Audie Powell, who served in the Marines and deployed to Iraq in 2003.

Flanders Morrison Funeral Director Tommy Flanders, who also works with the coroner’s office, said he respects the work first responders do.

“The first responders are first on the scene and we are the second,” he said. “We have to work together as a team, and they have never let me down.”

Among those to attend the three-hour, drop in lunch, was Bryan County Emergency Services Lt. Victoria Pape, who said being a firefighter runs in the family. Her mother was a firefighter and EMT, and her husband, BCEMS Lt. Ben Pape.

““My grandfather started it all when he was a firefighter at Union Camp,” she said. “It runs in the family.”

Richmond Hill

In Richmond Hill, more than 125 people gathered in J.F. Gregory Park for an annual ceremony to honor the lives lost and sacrifices made during and after the terror attacks September 11, 2001 that sought to bring the country to its knees.

But ceremony speakers Mayor Russ Carpenter, Fire Chief Brendon Greene, fire department Operations Chief Michelle Meacham, and police department Captain Jason Sakelarios said that would never happen.

“May this country and this city never forget the sacrifice of the men and women who died in Washington D.C., New York and in a lonely field in Pennsylvania. God bless this city and this country,” Carpenter said.

“Today we honor the lives that have been lost and those lives that continue to be lost due to the actions on September 11, 2001. The lives we are honoring today are those firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, police officers, members of the military and civilians,” Greene said.

The ceremony also featured an invocation by Pastor Daniel Boyd, the singing of the National Anthem by city employee Anna Benton and a bagpipe rendition of ‘Honor Our Fallen’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ by piper Mike Hostler.

“The remembrance ceremony concluded with the ‘Striking the Four Fives’ by fire department Capt. Jordan Johnson. The “Striking the Four Fives” is a tradition honoring fallen firefighters and others.

South Bryan

In South Bryan, Bryan County Emergency Services hosted its annual Freedom Walk and a ceremony at the South Bryan Administrative Complex. Students at McAllister Elementary participated in the event, along with BCEMS firefighters.

“This morning Bryan County Emergency Services, along with members of our community, and students from McAlister Elementary, gathered for our annual walk to remember,” a Facebook post announced. “ It is an honor to be able to organize this event every year to assure that those who perished on September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten. Thank you to all who participated in our event and our mission to Never Forget.”

Molly

Richmond Hill also took a moment on social media to remember Molly, a Richmond Hill K-9 and one of more than 300 dogs sent to Ground Zero to help search and rescue efforts.

“On this day, the City of Richmond Hill pauses to remember one of its own: a four-legged hero named Molly,” the post said. “Within hours of the September 11 attacks, thousands of rescue workers from across America deployed to Ground Zero to help in the search and rescue efforts. Dogs specially trained in search and rescue, police work, therapy and comfort also joined the endeavor. It is estimated that more than 300 dogs took part in the search, rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

Richmond Hill Police Department K-9 Officer Molly was one of those 300 dogs, and she worked tirelessly with her handler to locate victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks against our country. Molly’s death has been directly linked to her work at Ground Zero."

A plaque recognizing K-9 Officer Molly and her heroism can be found at J.F. Gregory Park.

Kristen Floyd contributed to this report.

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