Chester club hosts Patriot's Day to honor the first responders, military who perished in the attacks

CHESTER — Beneath the largest U.S. flag flying in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a local civic club remembered the heroes of 9/11 Wednesday.

“We are just so honored that so many Chesterfield County people came out to honor the first responders,” said Tom Sokol, a member of the Chester Kiwanis Club and emcee of the combined Patriots Day and Fall Fling event. “Our club has a history of honoring the military and first responders, and this is the perfect event to do it.”

During the ceremony, located at Unity Park on the grounds of USA Iron and Metal, plaques were presented to local and state law-enforcement agencies in recognition of the service all first responders provide. Also on hand to represent the military was 93-year-old Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, former president and current chancellor of the University of Richmond. At 17 years of age, Heilman enlisted in the Marines and served during World War II. A well-known motorcycle enthusiast, Heilman travels across the country sharing stories of the Greatest Generation. 

Accepting plaques on behalf of law enforcement were Virginia State Police Maj. Steven L. Chumley, Chesterfield County Police Cpl. Chris Scuderi, Chesterfield County Sheriff’s 1st Sgt. Lavonte Q. Davis, Chesterfield County Fire Department & EMS Shift Commander C. B. "Chris" Basdikas, and Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Moran.

Even though it was also billed as “Fall Fling,” temperatures Wednesday were anything but fall-like, soaring into the 90s. At least two attendees required medical attention for what appeared to be overheating.

In addition to the plaque ceremony, guests dined on barbecue and listed to music from the band Spectrum.

“Unity Park, location of USA Iron and Metal, was honored to partner with the Kiwanis Club of Chester to host the 9/11 Patriot's Day event at our facility. Our family considers it a privilege and a blessing to allow the community to come together on such a memorable day for our country,” stated USA Iron and Metal owner Monique Smith.

Proceeds from the event will go toward local Kiwanis Club projects.

Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people in New York, northern Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Kristi K. Higgins can be reached at 804-722-5162 or khiggins@progress-index.com