Blessing of the Boots and Badges


On the morning of September 11th, 2001, terrorists wreaked havoc on our nation, devastating, but also uniting Americans across the nation.

Eighteen years later, the City of Gulfport is looking to honor those who fought and died that day as well as thank those who are still in the frontlines.

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September 11th is a day that’s etched in the minds and hearts of Americans who lived to see one of the worst terrorist attacks in the nation’s history. Seabee Base Commanding Captain Bill Whitmire said, “September 11th, I was in a staff meeting at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David. I distinctly remember the staff broke into the meeting and said you need to turn on the TV. You’re not gonna believe what you’re seeing on TV and we saw one of the towers burning and right about the time they turn on the TV, we saw the second airplane go into the tower.”

Rosalie Chang with the United States Navy said, “As kids not really knowing what’s going on and then moving up to today, 18 years later, where we can actually understand what’s happening, you know, a lot of us join the military to serve and protect because of what happened 18 years ago.”

Now, 18 years have passed, and people around the country, including here in Gulfport, are looking to remember those who were on the frontlines that day and those who continue to step forward in the face of danger with the annual ‘Blessing of the Badges and Boots.’ Event Planner Cleo McQueen said, “First of all, we’re blessed with all of our first responders, our fire department or police departments, anyone that’s connected and our military also. That’s where the boots come in. We added boots this year.”

On this somber anniversary, first responders gathered at First United Methodist Church of Gulfport to receive the blessings of the community. Captain Whitmire said, “To come here tonight and have hands laid on and have folks taking the time out of their busy schedules in the community to do that for us was just super special. I think everybody, certainly from the military community that came, we really felt blessed to come out.”

“Definitely an honor to be here today and to be honored and get blessings on us because that shows the community cares about us. They want us to be safe. They want us to come home and it’s just a great feeling that they’re here for us just like we’re there for them each and every day.”


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