Blessing of the Badges honors first responders on 9/11 anniversary

Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 5:04 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The city of Gulfport came together Saturday to remember the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001.

For four years, churches, organizations, and city leaders have hosted ‘Blessing of the Badges’. After one year off due to COVID, they were all honored to meet.

“The Coast Ecumenical Fellowship is a loose network of pastors and church leaders from across the coast,” said Pastor Will Shurley. “We partner with a number of organizations like Feed my Sheep, Boy Scouts, Coast Wind Ensemble, to honor those who serve us daily,” said Shurley.

Vigilance, perseverance, and justice fly high in the center of 23rd Avenue in Gulfport. Community members stood with their right hand on their hearts.

Military members stood at attention. Everyone coming together to pay tribute to our country, first responders, and the lives lost 20 years ago.

“I was actually at a training class on Highway 49,” said Gulfport Police Chief Chris Ryle. “A DEA drug trafficking class when this happened and remember it like it was yesterday.”

“I was in college and just gotten up and was getting ready to go to a class when my mom called me and told me we were under attack,” said Shurley. “I certainly remember we just didn’t know what was going on,” he said.

The memories live on especially through memorials like this. Pastor Shurley and others said it’s important to pay tribute to the brave men and women in uniform for their continuous sacrifices while serving and protecting.

“They are the difference in what we enjoy and what we appreciate,” said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes. “I say often they keep most of us blissfully ignorant of the problems and the bad guys and evil that’s out there. They stand in front. Whether it’s an attack from a foreign country or foreign in domestic.”

The groups that put the ceremony together said gatherings like this not only highlight America’s resilience but an even better future.

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