By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.—As part of a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, local first responders were honored at a banquet Saturday evening, Sept. 11, at Campbellsville University’s Badgett Academic Support Center Banquet Hall.
The Tri-County Car Club, in conjunction with Campbellsville University, hosted the banquet.
According to Stan McKinney, chair of the Department of Mass Communication and associate professor of journalism and member of the Tri-County Car Club, approximately 130 first responders and their family members attended the banquet.
During the event, Dr. H. Keith Spears, interim president for the Campbellsville University, said Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that will never be forgotten.
“It is seared into our lives,” Spears said. “The whole world stops and looks backwards. There are those dates in our lives where we stop and say, ‘Where were you?’ 9/11 will stay with us for as long as we live.”
Spears told the crowd about Paul Ambrose, a student at Marshall University where Spears was serving as vice president on Sept. 11, 2001. Ambrose’s father, Ken Ambrose, was also a professor at Marshall at the time.
“The day after 9/11, I get a call in my office, and they said we need to do something for the Ambrose family,” Spears said. “I asked, ‘Why?’ Their son was on the plane that went into the Pentagon.”
Spears also spoke about the importance of first responders.
“We appreciate so much you are here,” Spears said. “I think it’s appropriate and very fitting that we gather together the people who run toward the disaster as opposed to running away.”
Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney thanked first responders for the sacrifices they make daily to protect the public, and he issued a challenge to first responders to be their best.
“I’m here to thank you, but I’m also here to remind you you are the backbone of this community, and for our community to be the best it can be, you guys have to be the best you can be,” Carney said.
Carney used each letter of the word “respond” as a discussion point during his remarks. For the “r,” Carney talked about first responders’ status as role models in the community.
“You guys are the ultimate role models,” Carney said. “Our kids and our youth look up to you…The characteristics of a role model I want you to think about are passion, an ability to inspire others, having a clear set of values and a commitment to community.”
For the “e,” Carney talked about striving for excellence.
“A lot of people can show up for work and go through the motions, but you guys can’t do that,” Carney said. “Your job is too important to our community. I believe there’s a reason Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:48, ‘Be therefore perfect,’ knowing we as humans are going to make mistakes but wanting our attitude to be one of excellence, striving to do the best we can.”
For the “s,” Carney talked about the stresses first responders face.
“There’s no doubt your job is very stressful,” Carney said. “We have the scanner in the county clerk’s office. We don’t hear everything, but we hear enough that makes us think, ‘How do these guys do it?’”
Saying it’s important for first responders to have an anecdote for stress, Carney read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
For the letter “p,” Carney talked about peace.
“I always thought of law enforcement people as peace officers,” Carney said. “They have to bring peace in some pretty hostile situations, and it’s not just law enforcement. You guys in fire and rescue can bring peace to someone who may be in dire straits. There’s lot of ways you guys can offer peace. Relish that role as a peacemaker.”
However, Carney said first responders also need peace.
“There are times you see stuff that’s got to be hard to deal with,” Carney said. “I know there’s sometimes you have a difficult time dealing with that, but that’s where we need to lift you guys up and pray you all will have the peace that transcends all understanding.”
For the letter “o,” Carney referenced Psalm 23:5, which reads in part: “You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.”
“I’m going to guarantee there’s been some rewarding things in your career,” Carney said. “You’ve been to help someone that, if you hadn’t been there, they might not have made it. I hope you can say your cup overflows.”
Carney then talked about the nearness of God for the letter “n.”
“I hope and pray every one of you allow the nearness of God to give you the strength to get you through each day,” Carney said.
For the “d,” Carney said first responders need to be determined.
“We’re not the community we are without you guys,” Carney said. “I hope you’re determined to do the best you can. I know the pay isn’t what it should be. I know the hours are long. You guys are 24/7. It’s tough, but I encourage you to be determined.”
Bob Cutler, member of the Tri-County Car Club and pastor at Campbellsville Bible Baptist Church, said first responders are “our heroes.”
“From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate you,” Cutler said.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,500 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.