For the seventh year in a row, Delaware County officials have marked September 11th by celebrating their emergency service providers.
With the backdrop of a large American flag suspended between the aerial ladders of two fire trucks, members of the Collingdale Borough Police lined up in blue dress uniforms, caps with badges pinned above the brim.
Bagpipes played hymns and an emergency services chaplain posed the question, “Does God care that on average one police officer is killed every 58 hours? Does he care when injustice seems out of control?”
“I can unquestioningly answer: Yes, God cares,” said Chaplain Drew Alexander.
Senator Pat Toomey joined Delaware County council and law enforcement officials in commemorating first responders lost when the World Trade Center collapsed following a terrorist attack in 2001, as well as those who serve closer to home.
County council president Mario Civera noted that, while the headlines have changed, it’s important to remember the 343 firefighters, 71 police officers and 55 military personnel killed on September 11, 2001 during and in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C.
Officials also recognized three local police officers for their actions in the line of duty.
On August 30th, Ridley Park police officer Mark Hanly and two other officers answered a call at the Mohawk Manor Apartments in Norwood, Pa., about an armed, suicidal man. A friend of the man’s was trying to coax him out of an apartment. When the man opened the door, he saw police and tried to shut them out. Hanly tazed the man, who then opened fire.
During an exchange of fire, Hanly was struck in the chest and leg. The man was shot in the elbow.
“I was worried about my family, my wife, my two boys,” said Hanly of his state of mind during the shooting. “I’m glad I’m here to see another day.”
A bulletproof vest may have saved his life. The man was taken to the hospital, treated for his injuries and given a psychiatric evaluation, reported the Associated Press. He is now awaiting trial.
At the ceremony, Hanly received an Order of Merit for Heroism, an award for officers injured on duty, etched into a clear glass plaque. The officers who carried him to medical aid following the exchange also received plaques.
A consistent theme of the memorial ceremony was the bravery and selflessness of the first responders who died on 9/11, as well as quieter forms of bravery exhibited by police, firefighters and EMTs on a regular basis.
As the keynote speaker, Toomey took aim at those critical of law enforcement, in light of recent, highly-publicized deaths of black people in police custody.
“We know that the overwhelming majority of our law enforcement officers, our firefighters and first responders are honest, hardworking Americans. They don’t have a racist bone in their bodies,” said Toomey. “And we know that, yes, your lives do matter.”