JBM-HH’s Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Harris throws the first pitch of the tournament to Maddie Elias at the First Responders Cup Saturday. Photo by Katrina Wilson

Annual softball tournament celebrates first responders, commemorates 9/11

The 18th annual First Responders Cup was held at Barcroft Park in Arlington, Virginia, where Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Commander Col. Kimberly Peeples made remarks and Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Harris threw out the first pitch for the tournament, Saturday.

The tournament hosted 24 softball teams that included teams from Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. The annual event celebrated the first responders involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“This (event) was founded because of Sept. 11, and it honors the brave first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice on that horrific day,” said master of ceremonies Ellen Bryan of WUSA9. “We also want to note this year, the First Responders Cup also celebrates the continuing work of our nation’s first responders.”

Peeples pointed out that Arlington County and JBM-HH’s history is linked and dates to the Civil War. That link also included the infamous Sept. 11 attacks.

“Our firefighters, police and military personnel joined Arlington County’s first responders during the initial response, rescue and recovery,” Peeples said. “Our military and civilian personnel joined forces with Arlington County and federal agencies to provide critical support to survivors and to Families and the loved ones of victims in the days and weeks following the attacks.”

She added that first responders continuously protect and place others above themselves.

“Today, 18 years later, our country may still face countless challenges home and abroad, whether acts of terrorism, civil strife and natural disasters, but still it’s the selfless and valorous acts of first responders — those who put the safety of others above themselves —who inspire the best in all of us.”

Peeples then spoke directly to the softball players on how they invest themselves in their sport. One of her message points is an individual investing in his or herself.

“I am proud to see so many of you committed to helping others, devoting your time, your energy, your talents today in an event like this ... ,” Peeples said. “Today you show you evoke a legacy of proud commitment and teamwork — which is all about service — something greater than yourself.”

Harris threw the first pitch of the game to Maddie Elias, a junior at Loudon Valley High in Purcellville, Virginia, was designated to catch the Tournament First Pitch in front of her peers last year, but rain cancelled the opening ceremony.