Local veteran, organizations reflect on 9/11, develop way to honor day locally

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Jeff Hemphill was 19 years old when the United States came under attack on September 11, 2001.

"As a military member, my first instinct was, 'Okay, when do I leave?'"

He was stationed with the Air Force in Tucson, Arizona, and he was ready to fight for his country.

"For us in the military, it was, what are we going to do about this," said Hemphill. "This is what we're here for. We're here to defend our freedom, so let's go do it now."

With four tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Hemphill served as a staff sergeant with the Air Force for ten years.

Now, 13 years after that tragic day, he is helping folks in the Tennessee Valley have a role in remembering.

Still Serving Veterans, Soldier 1 Corporation, Turning Point Consultants LLC, Distinct Grace, Blue Star Veterans, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center have teamed up to bring Huntsville the inaugural 9/11 Honor Walk.

For organizers, the event is long overdue.

"There wasn't a niche that was being filled in Huntsville of all places," said Kerry Holder Joffrion, Turning Point Consultants President and CEO.

Countless veterans and first responders call the Huntsville area home.

On a day that marked the catalyst for many of their careers, the 9/11 Anniversary carries more weight than any other day on the calendar.

"That's when they started serving," said Joffrion. "And so, even though they honor Veteran's Day and they honor Memorial Day, for them, Veteran's Day and Memorial Day all rolled into one as 9/11."

Saturated in symbolism, Saturday's 9/11 Honor Walk will be another step in helping our country move on.

"Focus on healing and getting past, you know, what we've had to deal with for the last decade," said Hemphill.

The event is scheduled for Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. under the Pathfinder at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

The walk will feature a 60 x 60 labyrinth path that takes about 35 minutes to walk.

It is free to those who pre-register.

More than 200 people are already registered for the event.

For more information, click here.

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