National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer recalled the sacrifices of first responders and other heroes as he delivered remembrance remarks before dozens of American Legion Family members at the Knoxville National Cemetery in Tennessee on Sept. 11. Listen to audio of the speech.
“Who could forget the images of first responders running into burning buildings on 9/11 as most members of the general public were, understandably, running out?” Seehafer asked. “Four hundred and twelve emergency workers, that’s firefighters, police and paramedics, were killed while responding to the World Trade Center attacks that day. And this number doesn’t include those who died years later due to the carcinogens and other debris that they were exposed to during the aftermath.
“The ‘service before self’ ethos that we so commonly see among first responders, our military and throughout The American Legion Family is the most enduring memory that I take from 9/11,” he said. Following his remarks, Seehafer joined other volunteers from The American Legion and Carry the Load in cleaning headstones of veterans buried at the cemetery.
In his speech, Seehafer pointed to the sacrifices made by more than 7,000 American servicemembers who died in the Global War on Terrorism and added that many more were wounded. He implored his fellow Americans to remember the heroes of 9/11 and continue their resolve that terrorism will not win.
“I am proud to live in a country like ours where people stand up and give their lives in the defense of others and do so with little or no thought of themselves or time to consider the consequences,” Seehafer said. “They simply do it because their instincts say it is the right thing to do. I hope – no, I pray, that America never stops raising these kinds of people. I know that Tennessee won’t.”