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Military, first responders celebrated at Nelson Park Fourth of July event

Honoring those who serve

Jul 4 2019

Analisa Trofimuk | Herald & Review

DECATUR — Fourth of July celebrations on the first holiday at the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater included recognition for first responders, veterans and military service members in a ceremony Thursday morning.

The Teamed for Defense event, presented by Ameren, began in 2014 as a chance to honor Vietnam War veterans. The event has since evolved and now includes all military and first responders.

Liz Barrows, senior distribution design specialist for Ameren, spearheaded the event this year and said it was the perfect opportunity to honor those who are often overlooked.

"The military and first responders need to be given attention and appreciation where it's due," Barrows said.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 91 assisted in kicking off the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance and presentation of the colors, and Macon County Sheriff Tony Brown served as guest speaker.

"Dedication does not stop at the color of a uniform, nor if you're a fireman or EMS personnel," Brown said.

This was the first time the recognition ceremony followed a meet-and-greet that allowed community members to speak with first responders and tour police cars, a fire truck, an ambulance and a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter.

Nicholas Rhodes, a 28-year-old member of the National Guard, enjoyed seeing visitors’ reactions to the helicopter, which was used recently to help in responding to floods.

“Up until I started with the National Guard, I had never seen a helicopter,” he said, “so it's cool to see families excited about it.”

Megan and Colby Smith brought their young son, Cruz, out to see the different vehicles.

"He loves trucks and tractors so it will be cool to see how he reacts to the helicopter," Megan Smith said.

Members of the Decatur Fire Department and Decatur Police Department were also present and offering tours of vehicles and an armored car. Firefighter Matt Jones said he thinks the event is a fun opportunity for Decatur.

"It is great to see the community come out and us getting to interact with them is fun," Jones said.

Guests could also visit the food trucks on site with fare including gyros, chicken strips and barbecue. A number of other organizations also were present, including the American Legion and the Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.

"Dedication and taking on responsibility to serve our community has always been the commonality in it all," Brown said.

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