Our local emergency responders, however, have their own battlefields to face right here in the rural and urban areas of the United States.
For this reason, the American Legion recently launched the first appreciation and recognition ceremony for firefighters and law enforcement officers.
The ceremony was held in the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce headquarters on the campus of Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee.
“This is our first appreciation and recognition for our local people that work for our benefit, our safety and our well-being,” said Alabama District 13 American Legion Commander David Hartline.
“We will get better and bigger, hopefully, as we go long. So bare with us, this is our first time,” said Hartline.
Hartline introduced Dwayne Amos, Cherokee County circuit clerk, chairman of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and member of the American Legion.
“With me this is kind of two-fold,” said Amos. “My career has been in law enforcement. I started in the U.S. Army. I served four years and served in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm.”
“What you do is kind of like being in combat,” said Amos.
“These guys are in combat every day. Things are happening every day and we understand. We kind of want to tell you how much we appreciate each and every one of you because we know the service you give is just like the service we give. You are doing it because you love your country.”
Kirk Day opened in prayer and Hartline followed by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Hartline recognized some of those in attendance, including his wife of 42 years, Pat Hartline; Joseph Baker, Division One commander of Alabama American Legion; Travis Bradford, representing District 15; Lester Nix, Cherokee Post 62 commander; Daniel Kovacs, Cherokee County commander and Luke Christian, District 13 adjutant.
Also recognized were local public officials who were present and the local news media.
“The one thing we want you to understand is this is a chance for us the American legion, to tell you thank you,” said Amos.
“Don’t think nobody appreciates you. We want you to know we do appreciate you.
“We appreciate those late nights when you are out there working with fires. People don’t see that.
“Veterans know it as well. People get mad at you when you tell them they’ve got to go this way that the road is closed. They don’t want to go this way. You get cursed for doing your job and trying to help people out.
“But we do want you to know that we do appreciate y9u and everything that you do.”
The program began with recognition of local volunteer fire departments, including Broomtown, Menlo-Cloudland, Ellisville, McCord’s Crossroads, Gaylesville, Spring Garden, Centre, Leesburg, Tuckers Chapel, Spring Creek, Mt. Weisner, Cedar Bluff and Sand Rock.
The certificates were presented “for outstanding service to the community through carrying out duties of a firefighter in a manner which reflects credit upon all fire department personnel for dedication to the profession above and beyond the call of duty.”
American Legion representatives then recognized local law enforcement agencies, including the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar Bluff Police Department, Centre Police Department and Leesburg Police Department.
The certificates were presented “for outstanding service to the community for carrying out the duties of a police officer in a manner which reflects credit upon all law enforcement officers and for dedication to the profession above and beyond the call of duty.”
“In closing we just want to thank everybody for coming,” said Amos.
“Like we said we are hoping that next year is bigger and better and that every year it gets bigger and better. So next year we will invite more people here and will do a little bit more in the community.”
“We just want you to know we appreciate you,” said Amos.
“We want you to know as veterans we kind of understand how you feel.
“There is nothing like being appreciated. We know there are veterans here and other places that know what it is like not to be appreciated.
“One thing we want you to know as veterans is if there is anything we can do for you to let us know.”
“So in closing, we thank you for your service,” said Amos.
“I have dedicated my life since 1992 making sure that the veterans today do not get treated like we did when I came back from Vietnam,” said Hartline.