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Community remembers 9/11, those who died
Sept. 11 sixth anniversary
A massive American flag hangs over the start and finish line of the America Supports You Freedom Walk Sunday evening. The event was along Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk, a living memorial to the 3rd Infantry Division soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. - photo by Photo by Andrea Washington

2nd Annual Freedom Walk

Community comes out for 2nd Annual America Supports You Freedom Walk on Fort Stewart.

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Just six years ago, Hinesville Fire Department Firefighter of the Year Earnest McDuffie was a volunteer fireman with the Huntington Manor Fire Department on Long Island, New York. Six years ago, he also lost his friend and assistant chief when the first World Trade Center tower collapsed on Sept. 11.
HMFD Third Assistant Chief and New York City RESCUE 4 firefighter Peter Nelson, along with other rescuers, saved the lives of approximately 25,000 people before dying on a day when he could have decided to stay at home, McDuffie said.
“The thing that gets me, is that it was his day off,” McDuffie, now an engineer for the HFD, said. “His wife was pregnant, so he was doing it to make extra money.”
With the courage of his former chief in mind, the firefighter was one of more than 600 walkers who decided to participate in the second annual America Supports You Freedom Walk on Fort Stewart Sunday evening.
The walk commemorated the sixth anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and lives lost, as well as the 359 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who have been killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We come together today to remember the events of 2001 on Sept. 11, to remember those who died and remember those who were injured and the extraordinary acts of heroism of the men and women in uniform,” Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe said in his opening address. “Those of you who choose to voluntarily, by your choice of career, subordinate your personal safety and your welfare to go into dangerous places and in life threatening situations...we cannot adequately express our appreciation, but we indeed thank you for all that you do for us.”
Originally one walk held by Pentagon employees in 2005, the national event has grown to comprise more than 220 walks in 10 countries this year, including the United States and Iraq.
McDuffie said the walk around Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field, with Warriors Walk within view, allowed him to remind people of the sacrifices made by first responders and to show support for the soldiers serving in OIF, which was part of the Bush’s Administration’s response to the terrorist attacks.
“It’s all about showing support for the troops still over in Iraq, letting them know that we think about them constantly, that they’re in our prayers,” he said, holding a banner signed by fire and police officers who were at the World Trade Centers. “And to just let people know and to remember what we go through and the job that we do and to just never forget.”
But Coastal Empire Chapter of the Association of the United States Army president and Vietnam War veteran Lou Carreras said forgetting the lives lost on “the Pearl Harbor for this generation” and in the events following would be hard.
“We can’t forget because (firefighters, police officers and soldiers) have sacrificed a lot,” he said as a gigantic American flag suspended in the air between two fire trucks waved gently above the walk’s start and finish point. “What more can you do than give your life?”
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