FLORENCE — Local first responders enjoyed a lunch Wednesday, courtesy of the Salvation Army, but said they especially were pleased by the gesture behind the treat.

The Salvation Army invited first responders to come to its local headquarters at 1601 Huntsville Road for the free meal as an expression of appreciation for what they do.

It was the fourth straight year the agency has provided the meal on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"This means a lot to us because in our day-to-day jobs, we kind of forget that people appreciate us," Florence police Capt. Steven Robertson said.

"We're real honored and blessed that we have this community thinking about us on this day and that they care about us," Florence Fire Rescue Capt. Doug Hartley added.

Florence police Deputy Chief Mike Holt said Sept. 11, 2001, is forever emblazoned on everyone's minds, including the minds of first responders.

"We all remember where we were that day and it changed what we do forever," Holt said.

Police Chief Ron Tyler said the bravery and selflessness that first responders displayed on 9/11 was an example of the sacrifice emergency responders provide.

"Police and firefighters run to danger when everyone else runs away from it," Tyler said. "Those pictures and videos from that day show that."

Salvation Army Capt. Benjamin Deuel said first responders deserve this kind of recognition.

"A lot of people lost their lives and gave their lives for people they didn't know, but simply out of a desire to help and perform a duty for this country," Deuel said. "The least that the Salvation Army can do is to give thanks and to show appreciation."

Salvation Army Capt. Wendy Deuel said they received good feedback from attendees, as they have in the past, including 2018 when some 150 emergency responders came to the meal.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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