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First responders honored in Stickney

STICKNEY -- On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that left nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens dead, Stickney residents honored area first responders who serve the country today.

Marilyn Reimnitz, left, gives a "thank you" letter and honorary pin to Twila Dykstra, right front, and Norvil Dykstra at a ceremony Sunday morning at the United Methodist Church in Stickney honoring area military members, veterans, EMTs, first responders and firefighters. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Marilyn Reimnitz, left, gives a "thank you" letter and honorary pin to Twila Dykstra, right front, and Norvil Dykstra at a ceremony Sunday morning at the United Methodist Church in Stickney honoring area military members, veterans, EMTs, first responders and firefighters. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

STICKNEY - On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that left nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens dead, Stickney residents honored area first responders who serve the country today.

More than 50 people attended the brief ceremony, sponsored by the Modern Woodmen of America, Sunday morning at the United Methodist Church in Stickney, where active military members, veterans, EMTs, first responders, firefighters and members of the Aurora County Sheriff's Office were celebrated for their work.

Each person who was recognized received a "thank you" letter from Modern Woodmen, along with a pin that reads "everyday hero" and were invited to lunch at the church.

While the service was successful and important, The Rev. Kenny Sherin said, the people honored Sunday need to be appreciated at the same caliber every day-not just when mourning lives lost.

"These people are our friends and neighbors and we take that for granted a lot of the time," Sherin said. "The tragedy that happened 15 years ago just gives us an excuse to do something we ought to be doing all the time-being grateful and thankful for the people that have answered the call of duty to serve our communities."

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Held directly following the church's normal Sunday service, the ceremony was open to the public. And many new faces were in the crowd, Sherin said.

Several attended the church service, opting to skip their normal Sunday routine, while others arrived following their own church's services specifically for the ceremony, Sherin said.

Charlotte Brown, the event's organizer, said the event took about a month to plan and was part of a national movement by the Modern Woodmen of America organization to recognize servicemen and women. She said each chapter across the country was tasked with holding a similar event.

"The world was changed that day forever," Brown said. "(Sunday) we were here to honor the members of our community that have served our community and our country, and made our country safer because of their concern for others."

But, the Stickney chapter was unique in its approach.

While event organizers wanted to remember the events of 9/11 and honor those who were killed, along with recognizing area volunteers, they wanted to ensure young children are being educated about the event.

Brown said it's the older generation's job to keep the history of 9/11 alive to their children and grandchildren, and Sunday's event was the first step in doing so.

"Now, children are learning about this terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and some of them are learning about it only in history books," Brown said. "When you think of 9/11, you think of the terrorist attack and the towers coming down, but what we want the younger people to remember is all of the people who went to help. They're a blessing."

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And, she added, in a small town like Stickney, it's important to make first responders feel valued because many are members of several departments, volunteering countless hours and endless effort in the pursuit of protecting and serving rural towns.

"Some of them ... they overlap and some of the veterans are firemen or EMTs, too," Brown said. "They're involved in everything, and, in a small town, you only have so many people so they kind of have to. So, we have to let them know they are important and appreciated."

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