First responders honored at 18th annual Blue Mass

Clark County remembers.

Clark countians celebrate, and they believe. That was the message of the 18th annual Blue Mass Wednesday at Saint Joseph Catholic Church.

The annual Blue Mass began following 9/11. It is a special memorial service to honor the victims of 9/11 as well as first responders in the line of duty today.

Dozens of first responders attended the annual Blue Mass, during which they received many thanks, blessings, a standing ovation and afterward, free lunch.

Jim Barlow ran the ceremony, acknowledging Lee Cole who was in the audience Wednesday.

Cole, a Winchester native and former Marine, worked in a corporate office among the World Trade Center complex in 2001. His building was hit by the falling of the south tower. Cole escaped but six of his friends died on Sept. 11, 2001. Cole sat in the dining hall during the lunch following the ceremony, chatting with attendees and displaying the tragic aftermath in the photos he took or acquired in 2001.

Father Frank Brawner recalls the events of 9/11 vividly. He was in seminary at the time, he told the crowd Thursday. His teacher at the time had the foresight to dismiss class early, he said, and the remaining of the day was spent glued to the TV, watching the news and the aftermath unfold.

“It is truly tragic because it shocked us out of a sense of invulnerability,” Brawner told the crowd. “… Our invincibility was wounded. So we were shaken as Americans.”

Brawner thanked the first responders in the audience and those everywhere who put their life on the line every day.

“Thank you to each and every one of you,” Brawner said. “The fact that you’re willing day in and day out to put your lives on the line for our safety and security. Because as much as we try to say otherwise, we continue to take those things for granted.”

Brawner said he can’t express that thanks enough.

Brawner closed his thoughts with a prayer from Mother Theresa.

“People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

“If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

“If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

“If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

“The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

“Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

“Thank you for your service,” Brawner said.