Many Gather for 2023 Patriot Day Program; Judge Harbison Places Wreath

September 12, 2023 - A Patriot Day program held at the Historic Shelby County Courthouse was well attended by emergency responders and members of the community on September 11, 2023.

VFW Post 8904 hosted the event and Mike Wulf, Post Sr. Vice, led the program. He started off by asking for moments of silence for Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Pierson and Sheriff Kevin Windham. Josh Crawford, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, then gave an invocation.

David Mathis then performed the National Anthem on the piano, and Leigh Porterfield also accompanied him by singing. This was followed by everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

"On September 11 2001, exactly 22 years ago, America witnessed evil beyond belief. It was difficult for us to grasp the scope of the tragedies that day. It was one of the single most tragic days in our nation’s history," said Wulf. "Two decades have passed since that [fateful] day, and for most the memories of what happened that day are still vivid and painful as they were 22 years ago, and while time cannot ever remove the pain we can find some solace in remembering how our nation was united in the subsequent days and months following the attack.”

Wulf continued, "That day, we refused to allow evilness to triumph over good. The accounts of hope and heroism that emerged from the rubble of ground zero, the Pentagon and the rural Pennsylvania field inspired us all to this day. Those remarkable acts of valor continue to serve as reminders of all that is good and true in the human spirit. In our grief, our nation and its citizens stood tall, and defiantly proud as police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, airplane passengers and crew members gave their lives to save their fellow man. The heroism will never be forgotten by a grateful America, nor by the VFW members who by their own experiences recognize heroism, and the high cost that comes with it."

Wulf reminded everyone of three of Shelby County's own who died overseas protecting our freedoms and they are Larry E. Polley Jr., United States Army, killed in action in Iraq January 17, 2004; Kevin Casey Roberts, United States Army, killed in action in Afghanistan May 7, 2008; and Cory Bertrand, who was 18 years old and in the United States Army when he was killed in action in Afghanistan October 14, 2008.

Leigh Porterfield shared a letter by Senator John Cornyn (see video above).

Flags were mandated by presidential proclamation to be lowered to half-staff at sunrise and remain that way until sundown, September 11, 2023.

Introduced by Wulf, and speaking on behalf of first responders in Shelby County were Keith Byndom, Center Fire Chief; Sgt. Det. Andrew Williams, Center Police Department; Lt. Chad Hooper, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, and Jessie Griffith, Allegiance Mobile Health. Each shared their thoughts on the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Wulf thanked all of the first responders for what they do every day in dealing with circumstances not of their own making.

Wulf commended the NextGen group and the Junior Chamber of Commerce members who placed flags on the square in honor of September 11.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison placed the memorial wreath on the Shelby County Veterans Memorial, after which Wulf invited everyone to participate in a moment of silence.

Following a moment of silence and remembrance of September 11, 2001, David Mathis and Leigh Porterfield performed God Bless America. Taps was then played as presented by Gene Hutto, Past-Post Commander.