Local firefighters remember 9/11 responders
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 05:36 pm
At fire hall No. 3 on Tuesday afternoon, the flags flew at half-mast in a howling late summer wind that echoed through the hall’s garage during a moment of silence.
Almost mournful in its wail, the wind joined the mood in the room as St. Albert Fire Services held a private ceremony to remember the 343 first responders who died on Sept. 11, 2011 when four hijacked aircraft were used as weapons to kill almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Centre in New York City.
From the sharp slap of polished boots on concrete as the honour guard saluted visiting dignitaries, to the mournful hum of bagpipes, to the 11 peals of a large brass bell – one ring for each of the 11 years since the disaster – the sounds in the garage, emptied of vehicles to make room for chairs, helped make the ceremony increasingly sombre.
“Nobody was even thinking about first responders, that they would be trapped and killed,” said Chief Ray Richards, referring to the first few hours of the attack. “From St. Albert’s perspective, our guys put their lives on the line whether they are at a vehicle accident and attending to a patient or fighting a fire and rushing in. It’s not the twin towers but they are laying their lives on the line and that’s significant for us.”
Richards held nothing back as he addressed the assembled firefighters, some in their honour guard red, others in their dress blues and still others in their working attire.
“We are proud of your commitment to the community that you serve. You are all heroes. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
Love, said Salvation Army Pastor Peter Kim, is what brings each firefighter, paramedic or police officer to duty. Few want to die in the line of duty, he said, but many are ready.
“(Sept. 11, 2001) reminds us that there are people in this world who value life, even at the risk of their own,” Kim told those assembled. “We honour the lives of those who gave their lives for others. This is true love in action and it’s because they value life.”
After four speakers and 15 minutes, the ceremony concluded. The chairs were rolled away and those in attendance sat down together for lunch.
Kim briefly looked over the room and said of the relationship between the Salvation Army and fire department: “We fight fires together, to be a support to one another and the community. That’s one thing we learned is that we work together well.”