HALLSVILLE — The Hallsville Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual 2019 Veterans and First Responders Appreciation Dinner on Thursday at the Hallsville High School cafeteria to honor the sacrifice and dedication of East Texas’ U.S. military veterans and first responders.

The dinner, sponsored by Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative, honors the dedication and hard work of East Texas’ law enforcement personnel, paramedics, firefighters and veterans.

“We take this time tonight to be thankful,” Hallsville Chamber of Commerce President and U.S. Air Force veteran Chris Comer said on Thursday. “We are thankful that our nation, state and community doesn’t have to worry about lawlessness or foreign invaders because we are free. We thank you all for your service.”

The dinner’s guest speaker, Harrison County District Attorney Reid McCain, who is a former Marshall police officer, spoke about the dedication and sacrifice that those in law enforcement, the military or first responders tackle head on every day.

“The number one reason people say they become a law enforcement officer is to help people,” McCain said. “Law enforcement, military, first responders, they are the only people who run towards something that everyone else is running away from. I think it’s actually a calling by God that causes us to do it — or something in the DNA. Not many are willing to do what you all do. Without you all here, we do not have a safe society — we don’t have a civilized society.”

Comer also served as the guest speaker on Monday at the annual Hallsville ISD Veterans Day program that drew in hundreds to commemorate the sacrifice of America’s military personnel.

The intermediate and junior high school students formed a line up and down Bobcat Lane on Monday to wave and say thank you to U.S. military veterans as they paraded out of the district.