By Riley Manning
TUPELO – Addressing the attendees of First Christian Church’s Patriot’s Day service, Mayor Jason Shelton said it was fitting to reflect on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in a house of worship.
“To remember where we were that day is to reflect on being an American,” he said. “In the following days, we became one people, simply Americans, and on the anniversary, we must renew that civic pride, seek God’s guidance and be thankful for being able to live in the land of freedom.”
The program sought to honor those in military service oversees as well as local fire departments, police departments and first responders. In addition to a presentation of the colors by the Tupelo Police Department Color Guard, Pat Mounce of the Ecru area, and Donna Bagwell of the Pontotoc area spoke.
The two mothers each lost a son overseas in the conflicts following 9/11.
“My son said, ‘If we don’t go there, they’ll come here,’” Bagwell said. “He was a Marine for 18 months.”
Mounce’s son was killed soon after, and would be joined by two more men from Pontotoc County.
“He would have been embarrassed about all this,” Mounce said to the local police and firemen present. “Like my son, there is danger ahead for you, but whenever everyone else runs away, you run towards it. I’m proud my son was a part of that.”
Earlier in the day, Tupelo Fire Station No. 1 also held a program honoring civilian personnel, at which Shelton also spoke.
“We grow up in the U.S. with a firm realization of the sacrifice soldiers are prepared to make,” Shelton said. “But not until 9/11 did we come to firmly recognize that it is not just the military who protects our way of life. That policemen, firefighters, and EMTs are willing to lay down their lives to protect fellow Americans is a humbling thing.”
Chaplain David Hamilton gave a prayer of thanks for these brave members of the community and closed the service with a moment of silence.
“At fire stations and police stations all across the U.S., people are gathered, remembering,” Hamilton said. “On 9/11, we felt a sense of fear we had never known. Let us never take freedom for granted, and always be thankful for the willingness of our servicemen and women to pay the ultimate sacrifice.”