Each year on Sept. 11, public safety workers from all agencies "come from far and wide" to Engine Company One in Thomson, said Thomson Fire Chief Rick Sewell. A dinner is held there in remembrance of those killed in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.
The memorial dinner was started in 2002 by Thomson Police Officer Richard Redd. The dinner was not observed a few years ago when Officer Redd died in a motorcycle crash. But others decided to pick it back up the following year, not only to honor those who died in the 9-11 attacks, but local officers who have died since then -- Officer Redd, 9-1-1 dispatcher Patt Garbutt and McDuffie Deputy Sheriff Jerome Jackson.
"We wanted to keep it going for Redd, plus every one of the rescue workers who died in 9-11. Even though they weren't from here, they are still our brothers and sisters," said Thomson Police Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle.
Chief Sewell said news of the dinner has spread and "everybody seems to come." Friday's dinner was attended by officers from the Thomson Police Department, McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services, state probation officers, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, CSX Transportation, Georgia State Fire Marshal's office, Life Net and Gold Cross medical helicopter services, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's office, Warrenton Police Department, Warren County Sheriff's Department, Georgia State Patrol, Thomson Public Works, and Thomson and McDuffie County department heads and elected officials.
Food for the meal was donated by local businesses and cooked by Lt. Whittle and Thomson Fire Lt. Bryan Rogers. The menu included 100 pounds of barbecued pork chops, 40 pounds of grilled sausage links, baked beans, two cases of corn and 36 pounds of potato salad.
"It's a lot of food," Lt. Whittle said.