It has been 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001, and like many I cannot help but recall where I was that morning and the horrific images of that day. I will never forget the heroism and incredible sacrifices made by police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and civilians on the highjacked airliners and at ground zero. All were called upon in a moment to serve in a most unimaginable way by sacrificing their lives in the service of others. We should fulfill our vow to never forget.
Immediately, and in the years that followed, thousands of our young men and women entered the military out of a sense of duty and responsibility to serve our country and protect our freedoms. They served in faraway places like Iraq and Afghanistan with too many paying the ultimate sacrifice. Seventy-three of those veterans returned home and continue to serve their community as police officers with the Bakersfield Police Department.
Hundreds also saw the sacrifice of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel on that terrible day and immediately began to serve right here at home and are still serving today. I am so proud of our Bakersfield Police Department officers and professional staff who serve our community every day.
I recently asked some police officers to reflect on Sept. 11, 2001, and express their thoughts and perspective. Here are some reflections from your Bakersfield police officers:
“I remember the shock and horror of what I saw on the television.”
“I was humbled by the actions of the first responders and remember being filled with pride in what we do.”
“I’ll never forget those that have died as a result of suicide, illness and trauma from what they had to see and do that day and in the years that followed.”
“I remember 'United We Stand' and I wish it was still like that today.”
The reflections that were particularly impactful to me were “I remember the very public demonstration of a willingness to sacrifice one’s own life for strangers” and “I remember that what some might call the 'uncommon valor' seen that day is actually really common for first responders."
Every day across our community and country, first responders put their lives on the line and come to the rescue of those in need. They run toward danger and willingly face the uncertainty that lies before them all in service to others.
We will never forget Sept. 11, 2001, the loss of life and the sacrifices made by so many. We should also never forget the police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who so nobly and bravely are still serving today.