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Time to say 'Thanks' to those who serve

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Most of us have a reasonable assurance of returning home at the end of the day when we leave for work each morning.

Barring the unexpected, like a car accident or sudden heart attack, or a natural disaster, or some other unanticipated event, we expect we'll be home in time for dinner and the evening news.

But there are many people whose lives don't fit that common framework. For many, their day ends when your day is just beginning. They work weekends, holidays and every hour in between.

And for them, there is no assurance they will be coming home at the end of the day.

Seventeen years later, it's time to pause and remember the men and women who were serving in emergency services and the military when al-Qaeda militants hijacked four jetliners and carried out suicide attacks against two targets in the United States. Hundreds died, along with thousands of civilians.

According to History.com, a total of 2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including the 19 terrorists. At the World Trade Center, 2,763 men, women and children died when the two planes hit the twin towers, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers who were attempting to complete an evacuation of the two buildings.

At the Pentagon, 189 people were killed, including 64 who were on board American Airlines Flight 77, the airliner that struck the building. Another 44 people died on board Flight 93, when it crash-landed in Pennsylvania, according to History.com.

Please take time today to thank the dedicated people who serve in those professions for their sacrifices, both for the time spent away from home and the physical and emotional toll those jobs exact.

I would also recommend, if you can find a copy, watching the excellent 2014 HBO documentary "A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY," by actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi. Buscemi, a former FDNY firefighter, returned to his old firehouse following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and worked 12-hour shifts with little fanfare. He later created the documentary, which he called an "honor and privilege" to make.

"All these people that we see die, it wasn't in their plan for that morning," Lt. Dennis Gordon says as the documentary begins. "People woke up, they take their shower, they have their coffee, right? Just like we do every day. And then something tragic happens, whether it's a fire or an accident. And they're dead. Or somebody who's really important to them is killed. You know, one day, that's going to be our morning. We're going to all get up one day and, um, it's going to be our last day; we have no idea."

First responders and active and retired military personnel in Hot Springs and Garland County will be honored with two special events this week.

Today, the second annual Patriots Day First Responders Breakfast will be held at St. Mary of the Springs Catholic Church at 6 a.m. The complimentary breakfast buffet will last until 10 a.m., and there will be a nondenominational prayer service at 7:30 a.m.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, first responders will participate in a parade down Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs. The public is encouraged to come out and enjoy the procession of emergency vehicles through the historic downtown area.

Both of the events are the brainchild of 15-year-old Dayton Myers, leader of the youth group for boys age 10-18 at St. Mary's.

As Myers said last month, "we literally owe our lives, security and safety to these people. This is one small way we can let them know we realize how much we depend on them every single day."

Editorial on 09/11/2018

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