National Date Commemorated; Local Firemen Honored

Image: Eric Bradley, Justin Buchanan and Matthew Brannon welcome family and friends to First Baptist Church on September 11.

Eric Bradley, Justin Buchanan and Matthew Brannon welcome family and friends to First Baptist Church on September 11. (Anne Sutherland)

September 11, 2001 was a day remembered all over the nation. People of all walks of life lost their lives in a tragedy that surrounded our country in turmoil. However, in the midst of this remembrance, celebrations occurred all over the nation—celebrations of life.

President George W. Bush called this “an act of war” and today America aims for higher standards and hopes for a brighter future. We remember this day because it would be a travesty to forget and we recognize that we are still vulnerable. We owe that to the ones who are gone and those of us that are still here.

In addition to the remembrances at the local schools, First Baptist Church of Italy celebrated and honored our local firemen by an appreciation day and luncheon. In addition, the firefighters who bravely gave their lives to save strangers and help on 9/11 were also remembered. We recognize them and all the other unsuspecting who perished in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC on that fateful day ten years ago. Three hundred forty-three firefighters perished that day.

“Our local firefighters have worked hard,” Fire Chief Donald Chambers said. “This last month, they responded to 43 calls.” Chambers thanked the locals for all they do. He explained they run to car accidents, fires, mutual aid and the first responders go to medical calls all times of the day and night. This group works very hard.

Chief Chambers listed our local firefighters:

Assistant Chief Randy Boyd
Captain Jackie Cate
Captain Michael Chambers
Lt. Brad Chambers
Lt. Sal Perales
Engineer Lynn (Monster) Lambert
Engineer Josh Droll
Engineer Paul Cockerham
Engineer Daniel Ballard
Firefighter Bobby McBride
Firefighter Colten Campbell
Firefighter Tommy Sutherland
Firefighter Eric Bradley
Firefighter Russell Coers
Firefighter Justin Buchanan
Firefighter Matthew Brannon
Firefighter Earl “Red” Buchanon
Firefighter Matthew “Taz” Martinez
Chaplain Ronnie Dabney

Chief Chambers researched through the department records and came up with some information that was interesting to the crowd. “The Italy Fire Department has been around since 1897. They weren’t an organized fire department and they used a hand drawn hose cart. This cart was used until the first motorized truck came around,” Chambers explained.

In 1920, the department became an organized station and had a truck. They owned a 1918 Model T chemical truck with no pump. For the cost of $2700, Italy purchased a brand new truck in 1927. In 1933, the first set of by-laws was adopted. In 1950, The department purchased a used Ford that pumped 500 gallons a minute and it stayed in service until 1968, when they bought a white Chevy fire truck. In 1996, a 1978 Model Pierce was used until it was decommissioned in 2011. In 2003, a 5 man cab Pierce engine from Florida was purchased. In 2007, the F450 Ford brush truck and F750 Ford tanker was put into service. Ninety% was paid with a fire service grant.

Previous Fire Chiefs included Leroy Finley, Billy Jack Rays, James Irvin, Randy Compton and Darrell Cochran just to name a few. There have been a lot of volunteers over the years which was not done for pay or self gain. It takes a special gift to be able to do this job and it is a God given gift. Everytime they step out of the truck on the highway or into a house, they put their life on the line.

John 15:12-13 says:

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (NIV)

The firefighters retired the flag and each fold was explained.
“There are thirteen folds when the American flag is folded correctly and each fold has meaning,” Micheal Chambers explained.

  • The first fold in our flag is a symbol of life.
  • Next is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
  • The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
  • This fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
  • This is a tribute to our country and the loyalty we owe our country in good times and bad.
  • The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with the heart that we pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
  • This fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all of her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
  • The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor Mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
  • Womanhood is the next tribute, for it is has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
  • The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
  • In the eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in their eyes the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • In the eyes of a Christian citizen, the twelfth fold represent and emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • After the flag is folded completely and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat. This reminds us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
  • The colors presented in our great flag also have meaning. The red stands for hardiness and valor. The white symbolizes hope, purity and innocence. The blue stands for reverence to God, loyalty, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Ray Don Mitchell thrilled the crowd with Amazing Grace and Taps ended the service, played by IHS student, Jacob Witte.