Sunday, September 11, is Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. Where were you at 8:46 A.M. ET on September 11, 2001? If you are like me, you remember every event in your life on that horrific day, when a group of cowardly terrorists attacked our country on our own soil.
I was scheduled to report for my shift at Shoreline Fire Department that morning when my alarm went off, and I heard a voice on the radio announce that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I turned on the television and watched in horror as the second plane hit. Something in my gut told me I needed to report to my shift at the fire station early. The oncoming and off-going shifts watched in silence as the events of the day unfolded in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
When the towers collapsed, we knew that many of our brother firefighters would be lost. The loss was catastrophic: 343 New York firefighters and nearly 3,000 civilians, innocent people, were lost that day. One of those lost at the Pentagon was Edmonds native .
In the days and months ahead, we carried on our duties under heightened security measures, aware that our country was at war, but not knowing where the next target may be. Responding to 911 calls increased our awareness of what a great country we live in. The support for the community was amazing. People would leave flowers next to the fire-station flag pole and, with tears in their eyes, thank us for being on duty.
In October of 2002, I was able to travel to New York to join 50,000 firefighters from around the world in a memorial for the fallen. During my visit I went with other firefighters to Ground Zero to pay my respects. As we came out of the subway and walked toward Ground Zero, I was struck by the size and amount of devastation.
Buildings were destroyed or damaged on a much broader scale than I had envisioned. The one building that caught my attention was St. Paul’s Chapel. In the middle of the multiple city blocks of destruction stood a small stone church, undamaged from the fires and building collapse. During the rescue and recovery effort, St Paul’s became a place of sanctuary for workers at the site.
At Ground Zero, I stood in silence with thousands of others, closing my eyes and reflecting on what had happened there. When I opened my eyes and looked up at the debris pile, I noticed the cross made of beams from the collapse. I was at peace recognizing that those lost were in good hands.
Many things have changed in 10 years. I have retired from the fire department and am now your mayor. Our country and our residents have pulled together and become a stronger nation after the events of September 11, 2001, but we must never forget what happed on that day in our history.
On this September 11, please take time to participate in community service in honor of those our nation lost, attend ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. ET to honor the first responders and other innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks. for the day on city buildings. If you have a flag at home, please display it in honor of those who perished.