Wednesday marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. To honor those who lost their lives and those currently serving as first responders, Sistersville and the surrounding communities came together to celebrate Heroes Day on Sunday.
Activities kicked off Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Sistersville First United Methodist Church with a special worship service followed by a free meal. Then the community lined Main Street for a parade through the center of town featuring veterans and first responders from the surrounding towns.
"What we're doing is allowing people to see the equipment up close and to see and thank the first responders," said Bill Dawson of the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department.
Dawson said the festivities in Sistersville and the upcoming events in neighboring communities honoring 9/11 should not only be about honoring the fallen of the past but also think about the present and future.
"Not only do we want to remember those men and women who died on 9/11/2001 but when you look at the state of West Virginia, volunteer fire departments are hurting and there's not enough volunteers," said Dawson. "So if we were able to take 9/11 and lift up those local men and women who serve whether its firefighting, EMS or law enforcement. It'd be a way to bring awareness to the community that we need your help."
One group has thought of a special way to honor first responders. Operation Thank You For Your Service was started in New Martinsville. Co-founder Earl Smith thought Heroes Day would be a perfect time to spread the word.
"We just felt we wanted to see more respect for fire, EMS and police, all the first responders so we formed this and our mission statement is to try to shake the hand, give a card and an American flag lapel pin to every first responder in the state of West Virginia," said Smith.
Operation Thank You For Your Service started in New Martinsville in honor of Patrolman Bruce Smith who lost a battle with cancer. The operation of giving first responders flag lapels and a handshake has now spread to 7 other West Virginia communities.