2017-09-13 / Community View

VIEW POINT

Area firefighters honor their own lost on Sept. 11

Sunday evening I had the honor to take a few photos of a unique commemorative event in our community to mark the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists used passenger jet planes to rein terror on the United States.

In particular, Sunday’s event was a four-mile walk by firefighters and their families from the Elba and Hadley township fire departments to remember the 343 firefighters who died the morning of 9-11 when the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York City. The 5th Annual ‘Never Forget’ walk was from the Hadley fire hall to the Elba Township’s station No. 1 on Hadley Road. Firefighters alternate every year with the start and finish from department to department.

“It’s our way to take some time to remember the lives of those who gave everything for someone else and experience it with our first responder families,” commented Hadley Twp. Fire Dept. Chief Kurt Nass.

I remember like it was yesterday where and what I was doing the morning of 9-11. Like here I was working a Tuesday morning on deadline in the final hours to get our Wednesday paper out the door when the world changed forever.

A woman came into the Gaylord Herald Times office where I worked at the time and shyly asked the woman working the front counter if we had heard about the plane that hit a skyscraper in New York City? Huh, that’s strange I thought, so I punched cnn.com into my keyboard and up popped the infamous picture of thick black smoke billowing from one of the World Trade Center towers. I reached back behind me at the office and turned the newsroom TV to CNN to watch further.

Minutes later a second jetliner crashed into the other twin tower. I said to my editor, “This changes everything. This is war.”

With just hours to go to make deadline we decided to scrub our front-page content to localize the day’s tragedy that changed the course of U.S. and world history. I sent a reporter with his camera down Old 27 to the local Sears store where I knew they had a wall of TVs playing at all times to get images of people glued to the TV screens of the terrorist attacks in New York City.

Only minutes after the first World Trade Center collapsed one of my friends on the Gaylord Fire Dept., Marty, called to say just one thing. In a stunned, quiet voice Marty said, “Jeff, we just lost a lot of my firefighter brothers in New York. Never forget them,” and hung up.

I never have, and neither have our local firefighter community. We must never forget 9-11.

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