(WTVM) - It should not take the occasion of the annual remembrance of 9/11 to give first responders some extra love.
The accolades our police and firefighters get on that day is always a wonderful thing, but what about the other 364 days of the year?
An Auburn sandwich shop owner, Sunel Merchant, is a survivor of 9/11.
18 years ago, he was working on the 49th floor of the North tower when terrorists struck the World Trade Center, collapsing both towers.
He told us he is still haunted by what he saw and experienced that day.
After moving to Alabama, Merchant opened a sandwich shop. Every September 11th, for the past 15 years, Merchant gives Auburn first responders free meals to say “thank you” for his rescue, and other acts of bravery exhibited that fateful day.
When News Leader 9 covered his 9/11 event this year, he explained his admiration of first responders this way:
“When I was coming down the building, the firefighters were going up the building,” Merchant said. “When I was running away from the building, the police were running toward the building."
That’s exactly what first responders do. Merchant calls them superheroes and we agree.
We also think first responders ought to be treated with respect every day.
Too often lately, especially in New York City, police and firefighters are being abused: drenched in water, sometimes hit with a bucket, all showing enormous restraint.
It’s happened in Georgia, too, in Athens and Atlanta.
So it’s fair to ask, why target and abuse the very people you may rely on for your future protection?
It shouldn’t take a catastrophic event like 9/11 to show respect for our first responders. Our expression of admiration for them should not be limited to one infamous date on the calendar.
The men and women who, as Merchant says, always run towards the crime or fire scene, deserve our admiration for doing a tough, often thankless, job.
First responders everywhere need to know we are behind them and we are grateful.
So, let’s think about expressing that gratitude on all the other days of the year, both before and after 9/11.
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