Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd gave the keynote speech during the annual city of Winter Haven Honoring Our Heroes: Remembering the Day event in South Central Park on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony participants and attendees honored first responders, active-duty soldiers, veterans and family members of a fallen hero. The ceremony also marked the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.

The sheriff said the United States is more divided now than ever, that hatred is spewed on social media, and that it disgusts him to see Americans disrespecting the flag.

“We can get back to a place of unity,” Judd said. “This is the greatest country in the world. When we stand together, nobody can beat us.”

First responders who participated in the ceremony included: Winter Haven Police Department, Winter Haven Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Polk County Fire Rescue and first responders from Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport, Haines City, Lake Alfred, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wales and Lakeland.

Music and readings were provided by Winter Haven Baptist Church and Winter Haven Christian School. Members of Polk County Veterans Council and American Legion Post 8 color guard also participated.

After the colors were posted (flag raised) members of the public gathered for a short walk around the downtown area in honor of fallen heroes.

When the walk was complete, and the sheriff finished speaking, fallen heroes and those who lost their lives on 9/11 were honored with a 21-gun salute.

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