TERRE HAUTE —
Religious services around the Wabash Valley marked the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, including a special service honoring America’s emergency responders Sunday at Good Shepherd Baptist Church on the south side of Terre Haute.
Pastor Thomas Manbeck said the service, which included music by the South Carolina-based gospel group The Rochesters, was to honor “all American heroes.”
Police officers and firefighters who attended the service were given plaques during the service. They – along with members of the military – also received a complimentary meal at a local restaurant as a gift from the church.
Danielle Long, widow of Officer Brent Long of the Terre Haute Police Department, received a special “Patriotism” award during the service and also a standing ovation from the approximately 200-member congregation. The plaque she was given included a photograph of her late husband and his K-9 partner, Shadow.
Brent Long, 34, was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 11 while serving a federal warrant in Terre Haute.
Mayor Duke Bennett, Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing, and firefighter and City Councilman Norm Loudermilk presented the plaques to each police officer or firefighter in attendance. Bennett also received a special “Christian Service” award and a standing ovation from the congregation.
“This is a tough day when you think about 10 years ago, what happened,” Bennett told the congregation. The lesson of that day and also the day Officer Long was killed is that the United States and the local community pulls together in times of tragedy, he said.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Bennett said.
Bennett also paid tribute to the emergency responders at the service. Most people run the other way when danger appears, Bennett said. “These guys just go in head first. …They don’t have a second thought about it.”
“We need to pray for these guys and gals,” Bennett said.
Three large American flags adorned the walls of the brightly lit church sanctuary during the service. And a color guard from the Terre Haute Police Department presented the American flag during a singing of the national anthem. The service also included a brief video featuring images and sounds from 9/11.
Police officers, firefighters and other government officials are ministers of the Lord, Manbeck told the congregation. Government is ordained by God and “only criminals are afraid of the police,” he said. “Treat them [police] with respect and dignity.”
If the events of 9/11 had happened in Terre Haute, local police and firefighters would have been there saving lives, Manbeck said. “These men are in harm’s way every single day of their lives. …We as Christian people need to pray for them.”
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.