LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - On the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, we not only remember those who lost their lives protecting the county, but those who serve every day to protect the community.
La Crosse emergency and service officers have put their lives on the line for both the community and the country.
"I view it as my duty, my job, what I'm expected to do to the best of my ability," said Sgt. Kirk Flatten of the La Crosse Police Department.
After seeing the images on his television screen on Sept. 11, 11 years ago, he rejoined the military – the Wisconsin Air National Guard – in 2003.
"The men and women who put the badge on, whether firefighters or police officers, that's what we do. We're the ones that go in there (head on) into that danger to protect the rest of society," Flatten said.
Flatten deployed to the Middle East in 2006. He was responsible for the Security Forces flight that protected the perimeter of a U.S. base.
"We just patrolled that perimeter to ensure that no insurgents or hostiles were coming in to do the base any harm," he said.
According to Flatten, about 15 members of the La Crosse Police Department have served in the military.
La Crosse Fire Department Lt. Kyle Soden has a similar story of service.
In 2010, Soden deployed to Afghanistan with the Army Reserve.
"It's kinda a lot like being a firefighter," he said. "Serving the community, being in the Army Reserve in the military, is a way of serving the whole country. It's giving back to your community."
After serving his community and his country, the 11-year anniversary of 9/11 resonates with Soden on two fronts.
"Not only the loss of firefighter lives, the (hundreds) of brothers and sisters lost at the twin towers, but the attack on the Pentagon as well. That hits home, too," Soden said. "That brothers and sisters on the military side of my family also lost their lives this day, too, in this attack."
Flatten and Soden may never call themselves heroes, but on a day Americans are taught to never forget, they'll also remember those who serve the nation are also serving the community.
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