Originally Published: September 12, 2015 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - On a day remarkably reminiscent of the postcard perfect day on Sept. 11, 2001, the day a terrorist attack on American soil horrified a worldwide audience, local first responders were given a hearty "thank you" for journeying forward to protect lives in their home community.
"The way this community rallies around its first responders is amazing, and on the occasion of 9/11 it is even more meaningful," said Police Chief Jerald Monahan at the first Patriots Day First Responders Appreciation Block Party sponsored by the Las Fuentes Resort Village at their park-like setting.
One of the first speakers of the day, Monahan shared that this is truly a day no one "will ever forget" as it was a day of tragedy and loss of close to 3,000 people, including hundreds of firefighters and fellow emergency responders seeking to evacuate buildings toppled by terrorist lanes.
On 9/11, terrorists managed to topple the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City, rip out a section of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and hijack a plane that was downed in a Pennsylvania field.
Monahan said this is a day to talk about American values and American ideals, to promote the unquenchable spirit of a nation that "won't forget" and has foiled plots for future attacks.
In retaliation for the terror inflicted, Monahan noted America's determination to thwart terrorism near and far.
"We beat the crap out of them," Monahan said.
"I think this is great," said Prescott Police Sgt. Nathan Barto of the Las Fuentes-sponsored barbecue that was hailed as both a commemoration of a sad day in our history and a celebration of those who still pledge to wear a uniform and serve their fellow man. "I am thankful people remember what happened in the past. It's something we shouldn't forget. And we certainly appreciate the public thinking of us, and the Fire Department and Lifeline (emergency medical responders).
For 20-year-old Austin Moffitt, a Yavapai College student and son of a three-decade police officer, said this is a significant tribute to those who hear thanks so seldom.
As a first-grader, Moffitt said his memory of that day 14 years ago is of teachers' crying.
"I'm glad we got our payback and I hope it never happens again," Moffitt said. "It's good to reflect and never forget."
Las Fuentes Executive Director Linda Villa said she borrowed the idea for this event from a sister agency in Tucson. She was delighted that so many police, firefighters, sheriff's deputies and ambulance care workers attended along with civic groups, military organizations and fellow senior care providers.
"It's a beautiful day," Villa said, acknowledging that it was a very similar day to the one people woke up to 14 years ago. "Everyone got up with the sun on that day with no idea what was going to happen. It's certainly a day I will never forget."
And Villa and others suggested it seems a fitting day to reflect on those who were lost as they also honor those public servants who continue to serve and protect at their own peril.
"What a great opportunity to share our appreciation with our first responders," Villa said of scheduling the event to coincide with the 9/11 commemorations.
"It's really an honor for us to thank them for all the service they do."
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