As I reflect on the tragic event that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, I can remember almost every moment of that day. I remember hearing the news of the attack on the radio with my fellow brother firefighters as we pulled into the parking lot from our carpool. We were all in disbelief that something like this could occur in America. I rushed home and began watching the news. As the first, then second towers fell, my heart did as well. I saw my fellow brothers and sisters perish right before my eyes. This I will “NEVER FORGET.” If I were to ask, “Where you were on that day?” I am certain that if you were old enough, you, too, knew your every step as well.
Each year on Sept. 11, your INL Fire Department honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on that day. We raise the aerial ladder on our firetruck, light up the beams of the ladder with blue lights, and proudly fly the flag of our country from the platform. I am sure that many of you have seen this display each year on 9/11 as you approach the CFA area. This is just one way to express that we will NEVER FORGET.
We began today (Sept. 11, 2020) by assembling at 0759, the approximate time of the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Following a 365-second moment of silence (one second for each fallen firefighter at ground zero), the Fireman’s Prayer was recited over the radio system. The INL Fire Department Honor Guard then presented the colors of the United States.
Following the ceremony, our members assembled at the CFA fire training tower for a memorial stair climb. Each member carried the name of each of the 365 fallen firefighters and climbed a flight of stairs in honor of that lost brother/sister. Following the stair climb, firefighters assembled back at the fire house’s bay and read aloud the names of those that they climbed for following the ring of the bell honoring each of them.
Historically, the ground zero line of duty deaths have been understood to be 343. In September 2019, FDNY added 22 names to the memorial wall; firefighters that have since passed as a result of medical conditions attributed to their response and exposure to the ground zero environment.
2020 most certainly has been memorable, but 9/11 – Patriot Day is one that I hope we will NEVER FORGET.