Valdosta, Lowndes honor first responders at 9/11 anniversary

·3 min read

Sep. 9—VALDOSTA — During a time of national unrest where the aftermath of COVID-19 is dominating the American consciousness, the City of Valdosta and Lowndes County banded together to honor the lives lost during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Residents along with city and county officials gathered at the Lowndes County Judicial Complex lobby to not only recognize the fallen on the 21st anniversary of 9/11, but to pay tribute to first responders who keep the community safe.

Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter opened the ceremony by telling the audience that while it's important to remember the people who perished on that "terrible, just terrible" day, the city shouldn't forget the military officers and soldiers, firefighters and law enforcement officers who "put their lives on the line ... each and everyday."

"When everyone is running away, these individuals are running forward. And they're running forward putting their life on the line. There's not a better example of that in this country than 9/11 when the Twin Towers came down," he said.

"This day here, in Lowndes County, is for all of you, the first responders and fire community. It's an honor to come together and do the joint event together with the City of Valdosta and Parks and Rec. The more we come together, the more we fight the challenges and the things that those cowards tried to destroy in this country. ... We're not going to tolerate and we're not going to roll over on those types of events."

Valdosta Fire Chief Brian Boutwell followed Slaughter's remarks by stating that many of the firefighters and first responders of the present day may have learned about 9/11 through history books and it's important for those who were alive that day to never forget.

"So what does that mean to you, 'Let us never forget?' What do you remember and what do you recall? ... As I shared with you all two years ago, I was on shift that day as we watched the terror unfold across the country not knowing as (other) events started continuing," he said.

"You have your own memories of that day. What I ask today is that we choose to remember the effects of 9/11. So, what happened to our nation (on) 9/12? We were united; love your neighbor never meant more. ... These new things that we face shouldn't change what we learned on 9/12, 2001."

Lowndes County Fire Rescue Chief Lloyd Green spoke next. He said 9/11 was not just "a moment and a memory" but it is a legacy for first responders who "walk into fire and burning buildings" and soldiers who agreed to "serve a great country."

"On a day where we gather to remember, we should pledge to continue to serve our families, friends and communities in whatever ways we can. Lowndes County Fire Rescue will continue to serve, to get there whenever Lowndes County residents call us. Never forget the ultimate sacrifice that was made Sept. 11, 2001," he said.

Following all remarks, Mayor Scott James Matheson implored the crowd to gather around the lobby's commissioner's seal, where city and county officials, as well as military personnel, placed a homemade wreath in its center.

They then surrounded the wreath and stood by for a final moment of silence for the fallen.