First responders from the Copperas Cove Police and Fire departments broke bread with local H-E-B Plus! employees to honor the emergency workers’ dedication to public safety the day after 9/11.

“H-E-B likes to commemorate the 9/11 event by giving back to the people that protect us,” said Tim Smith, Copperas Cove

H-E-B Plus! general manager.

Smith and several of his employees cooked various foods and sat down to the meal with the first responders as a thank you for their service.

“It isn’t a whole lot, but it gives us the opportunity to come by on this special day and say we appreciate what they do for us,” Smith said.

Cove Fire Chief Burney Baskett said the meal and the gesture were far from small and were appreciated by his department.

“At the fire department, we feel really appreciated all the time, but especially on 9/11,” Baskett said.

The anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center is a reminder of how dangerous saving lives can be, Baskett said. But it also reminds the department how important it is to the community.

“We know the job is dangerous, and on 9/11, 343 brothers died that day,” he said. “That is the largest event in fire service history.”

Smith said firefighters and police officers deserve more than just the one day of recognition.

“They have a very difficult job,” Smith said. “In the line of fire, and in the heat of the job, when everyone is running away they are running toward the emergency. It takes a truly special person to do that every day.”

Firefighters’ and police officers’ response to 9/11 showed the world just how selfless these men and women can be, Smith said.

At the time of the attacks, Smith was working at another retail store where he just stood and watched the planes collide with New York skyline landmarks on TV, Smith said. “It made you keenly aware of how vulnerable we all are,” he said. “It impacted all our lives.”

But it also showed everyone that no matter the incident, emergency service crews will respond, Smith said. The respect for first responders didn’t stop with H-E-B’s meal, Baskett said. Several community members called the fire station on Sept. 11 and thanked department personnel for their service.

Contact Mason W. Canales at ​ or (254) 501-7474

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