KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The calendar reads less than a month until the country takes a moment to reflect on what will be 20 years since the terror attacks of Sept. 11. With that said, local law enforcement and first responders have already been answering the call to pay tribute to the 2,977 that died that day.
The campaign is called “Remembering the Badges.” To help encourage more donations, UT Police, Rural Metro, Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee Highway Patrol are competing to see which organization can donate the most pints of blood. The goal, to collect the same number of pints as lives lost on 9/11.
“Any time we can remember the people who gave their lives serving their community it hits you. Hits you right in the heart,” UTPD Lt. Dale Wolf said.
“We see people when they are in need,” Rural Metro spokesman Jeff Bagwell said. “We see people on the front end when they get to the point they need blood. To know we are giving blood on the backside to help them is pretty rewarding.”
The campaign makes an impact on those who give. However, for one member of UTPD, the outpouring of support means a little more.
“I was assigned to NYPD for 22 years,” says Sean Patterson. The native New Yorker has been serving as UTPD’s assistant chief of police for just under a year and a half.
“Regardless of how much time passes from September 11,” says Patterson, “We can never forget the attacks on that day and what took place around this country.”
It’s that memory of the events of that day and of the friends lost that makes the “Remember the Badges” campaign all the more special.
“It’s a really special thing to see that again. Where everyone is coming together to commemorate a sad milestone but to basically invoke that same spirit. That volunteer spirit, to come together and help once again,” Patterson tells WATE. “So many people made a sacrifice. So many people made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The campaign, which runs through the anniversary, provides much-needed blood to the Red Cross.
“It keeps their memory alive,” says Patterson, “and they are not forgotten. And the ability to save a life is a tremendous feeling.”