Federal officials honored emergency responders with a U.S. Postal Service stamp Wednesday during the official nationwide release held in Missoula's Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center.
Representatives from local law enforcement, firefighter and medical services took the stage to accept the honor, and pay their respects to those lost in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 just days after the tragedy's 17th anniversary.
"First responders are the backbone of our communities," said Doug Stephens, district manager for Dakotas-Montana District of the U.S. Postal Service. "On our worst days, they are at their best."
Leaders from both local and state offices each took time to reflect on the work done by first responders, on 9/11 and through the present day.
"This new stamp speaks to how much America values her heroes," said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. "Every day these extraordinarily brave individuals run toward situations that most would run away from."
Dr. Michael Kremkau, a member of the Missoula County Search and Rescue, Missoula County Sheriff's Department's special response team and an emergency physician with St. Patrick Hospital was chosen to speak on behalf of local law enforcement. As well as mentioning those who died in the 9/11 attacks, he noted those who have died in the line of duty this year alone — 101 as of Thursday morning, he said.
"Few people will know what it means to take an oath like this, it's much more uncommon in society today," he said.
Keynote speaker, dedicating official and the Postal Inspection Service's Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell said his office gets more than 30,000 requests each year for different commemorative stamps, and only 20-30 are selected to be printed.
"People have been asking for a long time to honor first responders," Cottrell said. "We finally got this one through."