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story.lead_photo.caption VFW Post 1003 renders a 21 gun salute to close the ceremonies at the Jefferson City Veteran's Plaza rededication at JCPD Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Ken Barnes/News Tribune photo)

Honoring those who serve to protect citizens every day has always been front and center on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and even more so this year on the 20th anniversary.

On Saturday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a statement to mark the fateful day: "We honor and remember our firefighters, law enforcement officers, first responders and Americans — from all walks of life — who risked their own lives and made the ultimate sacrifice, without hesitation, to help their fellow Americans. These brave men and women did more than what was asked and could have ever been expected of them, not because of any one person but out of love for one nation: our nation.

"Fear did not overcome us and tragedy did not break us, and we will never forget," Parson concluded.

Those sacrifices Parson noted in his statement underpinned the commemoration Jefferson City conducted at its Veterans Plaza.

Last year, the Jefferson City Council approved the expansion of the Veterans Plaza in front of the Jefferson City Police Department so more engraved bricks could be displayed to honor the nation's veterans.

The plaza was constructed in 2006, and it displays bricks which residents were able to purchase and have engraved with the names of veterans. Years later, the display was filled, with no more room to honor more veterans with bricks. The expansion that was dedicated Saturday added three new display cases as well as modified existing cases to display more bricks. In total, the upgrades allowed for the display of 1,000 more bricks.

Funding for the project came from the sale of the bricks by the Veterans Committee and a donation from the Jefferson City Veterans Council.

Veterans Council President Don Hentges said Saturday was the formal kick-off for another sale of bricks, especially to veterans who served during the War on Terrorism.

"If you order a brick by Oct. 1 we will most likely, and will make every effort, to have it place by Veterans Day (Nov. 11)," Hentges said.

Commemorative bricks may be purchased from the Jefferson City Public Works Department. The application form and other criteria can be found on the City of Jefferson webpage, jeffersoncitymo.gov/live_play/veterans_plaza/index.php.

"We're grateful to have this memorial where people can drive by and walk by and reflect and think about the sacrifices these people made," Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said. "Hopefully now, 20 years later, we realize how important it is to thank those in public safety and the military that care so much to put their lives on the line for each and every one of us."

Missouri National Guard Director of the Joint Staff Brigadier General Charles Hausman has deployed multiple times overseas and told the crowd that on 9/11 he was a Captain in the Guard working in Warrensburg. Having an aviation background, Hausman said he knew something wasn't right when he heard about the planes striking the World Trade Center.

"When the third plane hit the Pentagon, you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we were under attack," Hausman said. "Our phone lines started to ring off the hook with soldiers wanting to know what they could or should do. At one point, I did take the opportunity to step outside to try and clear my head, and I remember how beautiful it was because there was blue sky and birds chirping around me. It was a surreal moment."

During the 20 years of the fight against terrorism, Hausman said those in the guard and reserves made up 45 percent of the forces sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. That includes more than 13,000 Missouri National Guard members with more than 300 currently deployed.

Hausman said as they worked to get their building secured on 9/11, he called the Warrensburg Police Department which sent a vehicle and parked it in front of the Guard facility as part of added security measures taken that day.

"I know you have many members of the Jefferson City Police Department who are part of the Missouri National Guard crews who have deployed," Hausman said. "These folks represent the very best of our community. They change from one uniform to another to do everything they can to serve their city, their state and their nation."

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