Hundreds Attend the Third Annual 9/11 Remembrance Tribute

You could not buy a better day for a parade. This past Saturday, September 13, saw sunshine, cloudless blue skies and warm temperatures for Lamar’s Third Annual 9/11 Tribute which began at 10am with a traditional parade along South Sixth, West Cedar and South Ninth Streets, leading to the Prowers County Fairgrounds.  Patriotic red, white and blue banners, balloons and ribbons decorated the front of some homes along the parade path, while area First Responders and veterans dating as far back as World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the mid-east conflicts rode in the parade, acknowledging the thanks of residents who lined the sidewalks.  The parade participants also included various civic organizations such as the Lamar Chamber Honkers, SDS and employees of Prowers Medical Center who had their own parade entry, honoring Dr. James Smith, who is currently deployed as a surgeon in Afghanistan with the National Guard.  The winners from the first Miss and Mr. Fall Festival Pageant were also included in the parade.

Doug Harbour, who has masterminded the Tributes for the past three years, got to stand on the sidelines during the parade for the first time. “This is tremendous,” he said.  “We have a great day and a great turnout, and I’m just so happy that all the work that went into this event is coming together.  We have a lot of good people that volunteered their time to make this work.”  That was about all the time off he had.  Once the parade had passed by, he was  in search of a podium to use for the formal program taking place at the fairgrounds.

The rest of the day focused on activities and displays at the fairgrounds with a row of fire trucks and ambulances lining the main street to the arena, while two huge flags hung from the rafters of the pavilion. According to Scout Leader, Shane Dashner, the flags had been donated by Brad Semmens and the Lamar Truck Plaza.  Boy, Girl and Cub Scouts handed out strips of several flags which had been cut according to their red, white or blue striping and were ceremoniously burned in several pits by members of the audience who had been given their own section of flag.

While sampling displays set up by various vendors, residents also viewed the Hall of Honor which featured photos and bios of local servicemen and women over the past 70 years, along with elementary student’s drawings depicting scenes of patriotism.

The formal tribute program began after the free BBQ for First Responders and Veterans. Doug Harbour provided the introductions and thanked everyone involved in this year’s event.  Cory Forgue served again this year as Master of Ceremonies.  Reverend Ian Blacker of the First Christian Church led the gathering in an invocation which was preceded by the Pledge of Allegiance by Lamar Scout Troops and the “Star Spangled Banner”, sung by the Lamar High School Notables.   Forgue provided the introduction of the Grand Marshall, Alvin Seifkas, a distinguished veteran of WWII.  Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook presided over the ringing of the fire bell, honoring fallen comrades across the country who had given their lives in the service of their neighborhoods and their nation.

The Tribute was highlighted by guest speaker, Jerry Rhodes, who has the distinction among many titles, as the Colorado Fire Chief of the Year and Fire Chief of the Cunningham Fire Protection District of the unincorporated Arapahoe County in Denver. Rhodes, sometimes addressing the audience with visible emotion, spoke about the nature of a fireman that sets them apart from most people.  He said he came from a line of eight generations of fire fighters, or ‘hose-dragger’ as he referred to himself, noting that his particular profession can be dated in this country all the way back to the cliff dwellers in Cortez from 1,500 years into the past. “Fire codes, building codes…we’ve been around since 300 B.C.  We’re one of the oldest groups around, and we’re honoring some of those people, here, today,” he stated.

Rhodes drew prolonged applause from the audience when he referenced past honors to veterans. Turning to Mr. Seifkas, he stated, “Sir, we have paid great homage to you and your comrades, as we should.  We took care of our veterans from Korea, as we should.”  Rhodes’ voice began to quaver as he continued, “As a nation we need to take care of our veterans from Vietnam before we no longer have the opportunity to do so.”

Referencing the personal impact many Americans experienced with the events of September 11, 2001, he added, “It’s clear the resolve has to be there to take care of our country and our community. Our soldiers take care of our country.  Our police officers, firefighters and EMT’s take care of our communities.”

The program concluded shortly afterwards with the recognition throughout the audience and participants in the tribute of all First Responders and their spouses and significant others.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: communityCountyEntertainmentEventsFeaturedFestivalFire Department-RespondersHot TopicsLamarProwers CountyPublic Safety


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