All first responders are invited to the Patriots’ Day Luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at the Ashland City Church of Christ from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This annual event of appreciation is hosted by Ashland City Civitan.
Ashland City Civitan President Faye Silva said she is looking forward to this year’s celebration of the county’s first responders who are firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical service (EMS) personnel and related fields.
Silva said that there were 55 first responder attendees for last year’s luncheon, with men and women representing Ashland City Police Department, Ashland City Fire Department, Cheatham County EMS, Cheatham County Sherriff’s Department, Cheatham County SRO, Pleasant View Police Department and Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Ashland City first responder
Steven Haggard, 42, began his career as a first responder when he became a Two Rivers firefighter at the age of 16.
“My dad was chief for a long time there,” he said.
Haggard, who attended last year’s luncheon, serves as at EMS Captain for the station at 3455 Bell St. in Ashland City.
“From age 16 to now at 42, being a first responder is what I’ve done,” said Haggard, who is an EMS teacher at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin.
Haggard is also clear about what motivates him to be a first responder and why he’s driven to help others become successful in that field.
“I wanna help people may seem a cliché, but it’s at the root of what we do,” he said. “I’ve had 25 years of giving back to my community. I grew up in Ashland City, and I’ve been here all my life. Mom (Dora Haggard) taught school for 35 years in the community. This community that raised me and allowed me to be put in the position I am in. I grew up with coworkers chief Danny Schaeffer and director of EMS and assistant chief BJ Hudspeth. I want to give back.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Haggard was a member of the National Guard.
“The loss was extraordinary, and the response was something incredible. We haven’t been that unified. Adrenaline took over any fear or anxiety,” he said. “Inside I knew, it’s time to go to work.”
Kingston Springs first responder
Kingston Springs first responder Jeremy Vaughan, 38, has been an active member with the Kingston Springs Fire Department since May of 1999 and holds the rank of captain.
Outside of his volunteer services, Vaughan is a police officer with the Kingston Springs Public Safety Department, and he serves as a fulltime law enforcement officer and firefighter for the town.
“I like helping people, to be there when someone is going through a difficult time,” Vaughan said. “I want to help them through the process, whether it’s where they’ve been involved in a car wreck, or their home has been burglarized or they’re having some kind of medical episode.”
Vaughan said that 9/11 was the worst of times that brought out the best in many citizens.
“I hate that 9/11 ever happened, but I miss the days right after 9/11 when everybody just kinda woke up and acknowledged everyone and welcomed everyone,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many would come up to me in those days following 9/11 and want to hold my hand and say a prayer for me or thank me for my service. It was sincere, with people holding back tears.”
Pleasant View first responder
For Pleasant View firefighter Kenneth Nelms, 45, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on his wanting to make a positive difference. He participates in the annual stair-climbing events that have taking place in Nashville since 9/11.
“I’m a second-generation firefighter; my dad was fire chief in Nashville and a trainer across the nation,” Nelms said. “So, I was raised by firefighters and in and around the stations my whole life. Those guys not only showed me the job, but they just showed me the humanity that it takes to do this job. You’re gonna see people in the worst day of their first hour going to their homes, right their wrong and head in the right direction.”
When he climbs the stairs on 9/11, he wears a bracelet than honors New York firefighter Patrick (Paddy) Brown who was assigned to Truck 3 in Manhattan. Nelms worked on Truck 3 in Nashville.
He said that on 9/11 he thinks about the 343 firefighters lost in New York at the World Trade Center.
“Most of them when they got there probably knew of the likelihood of them not making it through,” he said. “It makes me smile that they went anyway. And to know that they saved thousands of people by evacuating.”