Heroes in the Heartland


HANCOCK COUNTY – In the 16 years since the World Trade Center towers came down, September 11 has evolved into an unofficial holiday for recognition of first-responders – police, firefighters and EMS personnel – war veterans and currently serving military.

After last year’s picnic and three-on-three basketball tournament at Riley Park, the North Street Living Alley — located between State and Pennsylvania streets, is this year’s location for Greenfield Main Street’s second annual Hometown Heroes celebration from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on September 11.

The highlight of this year’s event is a bean-bag tournament, with registration costing $20 a person. Participants can register as a team by emailing [email protected]; individuals who want to play will be matched with a partner ahead of the competition. Space is limited to 48 players. A trophy will be awarded to the tournament winner.

Food will be available for purchase at the All About the Q food truck, serving chicken, pulled pork and ribs.

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In addition to the festivities, Charles Gill, the Americanism Chair from American Legion Post 119, will present Commitment to Service awards to deserving local first-responders.

Gill, a seven-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, will present three Commitment to Service awards: the Lewis Carl Schmidt Police Officer of the Year award will be presented to Capt. Brian Guinn; Brian Marr will receive the Martin A. Werner Firefighter of the Year Award; and Assistant Chief R.J. Beaver will be recognized as the Frank Gilbert Jr. Emergency Medical Serviceman of the Year. Award recipients have already been notified, organizers said.

Gill is privileged to be presenting the awards for the first time in at least a decade. The American Legion post had gotten away from giving the awards due, in part, to a decrease in membership, and Gill is honored to be part of the movement to reinstate the presentation of the awards.

“For me, it’s a great opportunity to recognize the police, firefighters and EMS because they’re really the unsung heroes,” Gill said.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the Greenfield Veterans Honor Guard will be on hand for a patriotic program. Under the direction of Commander Bob Workman, the Honor Guard represents the Marines, the Air Force, the Navy and the Army. The program will include remarks, a prayer and the singing of the national anthem.

A bugler will play taps, and the guard will fire its rifles in salute and close the program with “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Hometown Heroes isn’t the only 9/11 recognition event. Ten West Center for the Art, 10 W. Church St. in Fortville, in partnership with the Mt. Vernon High School music department, will present the seventh-annual Fortville Remembers program.

The tribute starts at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 in the Mt. Vernon High School auditorium, 8112 N. County Road 200W in Fortville. The program — emceed by Zarah Miller Shejule — will feature a color guard ceremony, a video tribute to local first-responders, a vocal number by Mt. Vernon graduate Stephani McDole and performances by the Mt. Vernon High School band and choirs. The program is free to attend.

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A number of events in September honor first-responders:

Event: Hometown Heroes

When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11

Where: North Street Living Alley, located off North Street between State and Pennsylvania streets

When: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Activities: Bean bag tournament, playing of taps and rifle salute, presentation of first-responder awards.

Event: Fortville Remembers

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 8

Where: Mt. Vernon High School, 8112 N. County Road 200W, Fortville

Activities: A color guard ceremony, a video tribute to local first-responders, a vocal number by Mt. Vernon graduate Stephani McDole and performances by the Mt. Vernon High School band and choirs.