Today is Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance. On this day Americans across the country are called to volunteer in their local communities in tribute to the individuals lost and injured in the attacks, first responders and the many who have risen in service to defend freedom.

Also Virginia House Joint Resolution 646 officially designates Wednesday, Sept. 11, and every following year on Sept. 11 as First Responder Day in Virginia.

Public safety agencies, associations and organizations that work with first responders are encouraged to observe the day of remembrance with community activities, events and promotion of First Responder Day in Virginia with stakeholders for awareness.

HJ 646 was introduced during the 2019 Session of the Virginia General Assembly by Delegate Michael P. Mullin (D-Newport News), and establishes Sept. 11 as the day to remember and recognize first responders in Virginia, according to the resolution, “...for their courage and dedication to protect and aid the public during emergencies as both professional and volunteer first responders.”

In the resolution, first responders are listed as 911 dispatchers, law-enforcement officers, professional and volunteer firefighters, professional and volunteer emergency medical services personnel, emergency management professionals, search and rescue teams, rescue pilots and divers, the Virginia National Guard and members of other organizations in the public safety sector.

Saying “thank you” to first responders with cards and letters is one way to show these people how special they are in this community and a simple “thank you” in person also is always much appreciated.

A day hardly goes by that you don’t hear about the death of a first responder who is killed or wounded during the call of duty.

It makes you think about how these men and women get up every morning as usual, have their breakfast and dress for work, never thinking they may not return home at the end of the day or have their lives changed forever in the blink of an eye.

We should be very thankful they are willing to do so much for other people for so little. The first responder is a dedicated breed.

The next time you happen to see one of our loyal first responders, thank him or her for everything they do for us. Just imagine the perils we would face without them watching over us and protecting us.

Some may not think about them, and others may even disagree with me, but I for one am glad we have every single one of them.

Thank you first responders.

Paula I. Bryant is the editor of The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at​

Paula I. Bryant is the editor of The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at