As 9-11 victims and first responders were honored across our nation Wednesday, so were Mississippi military, law enforcement and fire and rescue teams. More than 300 men and women were honored for their sacrifice and dedication.
As Mississippi Highway Patrolmen, officers from local departments, military members and many more joined under one tent, Governor Phil Bryant took the stage thanking those who serve and protect. Gov. Bryant also introduced us to, in his words, a great American hero.
"A rocket propelled grenade hit a wall about five feet from me and sent multiple pieces of the wall through my body," said C. J. Stewart.
That enemy fired rocket hit within a few feet of Stewart. He was a 21 year old combat medic with the 101st Airborne Division serving in southern Afghanistan. This blast left the Mississippi soldier's right arm partially amputated and a hole in his right leg. He endured 40 surgeries, 18 blood transfusions and thousands of hours of therapy.
"That led into the creation of the foundation of using my story to start with and then the stories of everybody around us," said Stewart. "Life is hard. The verse we cling to in the Bible is John 16:33 when Jesus said in this life you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world."
The C. J. Stewart Foundation was born. During the 9-11 remembrance event Stewart announced the foundation's newest project, Down Range.
"Helping the next generation of Mississippi kids grow up and touch the service community. Whether that's kids of families of police and fire, first responders, military, we know by nature their parents have a tough job. They experience things that not every kid deals with," said Stewart.
Stewart shared the plans of Down Range with all in attendance, and Governor Bryant announced he and the first lady are 100% behind the project.
"It might not be physical, it might not be bloody, but you're going to get punched in life. You're going to get knocked down. Teach them with the right attitude, character and faith you can overcome anything," said Stewart.
$12,000 was raised for the event to honor our first responders. That money is being donated to Stewart's Down Range program. If you are interested in learning more about the foundation, click here.
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