BEAUMONT, Texas––City residents may have wondered what sort of emergency situation caused police cars, ambulances, EMS vehicles, and fire trucks to be jammed together near the entrance of the 1,800-seat Julie Rogers Auditorium.
In fact, they huddled to mark “Duty Calls: Honoring Our First Responders,” an event held on March 21st to honor first responders in Beaumont, a city in southeast Texas.
Last summer while recuperating from surgery Anna Jane (A.J.) Brian came across a devotional Strength for Service to God and Community which is written and produced for first responders. The devotional moved her to form the “Duty Calls” committee, a group of six women who reached out to Mayor Ames and the City of Beaumont for their assistance and support. They then designed a plan to invite the community to be a part of this event by helping purchase the devotionals and supporting the event.
The event program included words from Dan Ramsey, former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men and a retired Houston police officer. He explained how a young man working on his Eagle Scout found a copy of his grandfather’s Strength of Service to God and Country, a devotional handed out during World War II to service men. As his Eagle Scout project he updated the devotional and after that the devotional for first responders Strength for Service to God and Community was developed.
Lieutenant Joe Torrillo, a retired New York firefighter, who miraculously survived the 2001 collapse of both World Trade Towers, was the principal speaker.
“I felt as if I was eaves dropping on a private conversation as I listened to Lieutenant Torrillo talk with the first responders,” says Brian.
“I am you and you are me,” said Torrillo. “When you took the position as a first responder you took an oath, a vow. You became a public servant, one who cares for and protects the public, all of the public. It wasn’t just a vow you took, it’s also one your family took. All the ball games, recitals, special occasions you missed, you missed were because you were ‘on the job’ taking care of other families. Your families’ sacrifices are because they support you in the vow you took.
“It is because of those sacrifices and those vows that you are recognized today,” said Torrillo. “The citizens of Beaumont want you to know that you remain in their thoughts and prayers each and every day. As you read each day from your devotional book we hope you remember that while we may not physically be present, ‘we have your back’.”