Recently retired Circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor praised the importance of annual Sept. 11 memorial events to teach younger generations of the sacrifices of first responders that day.

In his remarks at the 9-11 memorial service held last Friday morning at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office in Murfreesboro, Taylor, a retired Navy SEAL, noted that for older generations who witnessed the 2001 terrorist attacks on television, 9-11 remains fresh in their minds. He said that the younger generations, who were not witnesses, do not have the same recollections, and that the annual 9-11 ceremonies help to remind them of the attacks and the deaths.

First Responders “met the ultimate test,” Taylor said, adding, “We honor those who gave their lives in responding to the disaster on September 11, 2001.”

The 9-11 Memorial at the sheriff’s office says that 2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 people who were injured. The memorial counts the 343 New York City firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers and eight emergency medical service personnel who died saving others that day.

The one-and-a-half-ton central I-beam of the county memorial is from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

A new generation now takes the daily risks that come with the profession that responds to emergencies, Taylor said. He called for reasonable salaries and training for the young people who choose to take on first responder duties.

About 100 people attended the memorial service, which was live-streamed in keeping with COVID-19 protocol.

The program featured a range of community volunteers who help to maintain the memorial, as well as members of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, the Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, the Smyrna police and fire departments, the Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department, VFW Post 4575 Murfreesboro and Post 8422 Smyrna, and the VFW-sponsored Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 Tennessee.

Sheriff’s Chaplain Victor Poletajev conducted the invocation, VFW Post 4575 Commander (Ret.) Marine Tony Knox presented the Pledge of Allegiance and MTSU Forensic Science student Hannah Guthrie sang the national anthem a cappella. A team from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office presented a 21-gun salute.

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