‘Never forgotten’: Rock Hill seniors deliver thanks to cops, firefighters on 9/11

Nobody asked the senior citizen clients at the York County Council on Aging to thank police and firefighters Wednesday.

But it was 9/11. The anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed and injured thousands.

So many seniors went and thanked the first responders in person. In a surprise. Bearing gifts of candy. And coffee mugs.

“We are just so grateful for the police, the firemen, the ambulance workers - they are always working,” said Linda Presnell, a senior center client. “They risk it all for us.”

The senior center ladies and gentlemen put together mugs with candy, and wrote personal, hand-written thank-you notes for each mug. Without invitation, the group stormed the Rock Hill Law Center like Marines.

Some walked. Some rolled in wheelchairs. One had a walker. They mentioned all the firefighters and police and others who died 18 years earlier.

Officers came out from all sides of the building to pose for pictures and thank the seniors. Hardened detectives and patrol officers hugged these ladies and men. The gesture meant a lot more than a cup of sweets, the officers said.

“This is a truly beautiful and appreciated gesture,” said Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts.

After the hugs and the thanks, these seniors did not dally. They had to go.

The fire department needed their thanks delivered, too, Presnell said.

“Heroes are never forgotten,” she said. “Not by us.”

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.