In front of the Fort Rucker firehouse, a fire engine’s ladder reached high into the sky Sept. 11 with the American Flag flying halfway up the mast as a crowd from the Fort Rucker community gathered to solemnly honor those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The Directorate of Public Safety hosted the 9/11 memorial service, and people came together to pay their respects and remember why the fight against terrorism continues 13 years later.
“Today, we pay tribute to the firefighters, police, emergency medical service and military service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice on Sept. 11,” said Fort Rucker Fire Chief Jay Evett. “We gather today to remember this horrific event, and to mourn our brothers and sisters.”
In total, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives during the attacks, which happened in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and over the skies of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, said Lt. Col. Florentino Santana, provost marshal and director of public safety. As a result of the attacks, more than 400 emergency service responders were killed, including 343 New York Fire Department firefighters and paramedics, 37 New York Port Authority police offices, 23 New York Police Department police officers, eight emergency medical technicians from private hospital units and private ambulance services, and three New York State court officials.
“Sept. 11, 2001, was a wakeup call to all Americans to the realities of a dangerous world,” said the provost marshal. “First responders across the country have always understood the risk of serving the community we live in and first responders continue to run into dangerous situations every day.
“Today, as we mark the anniversary of the sacrifices of that day … and as we are reminded of the event that precipitated a campaign against terrorism across the globe, we must keep in mind that the world is still very dangerous and we must continue to be vigilant,” he continued. “Let us not ever forget those brother’s and sisters whose watch ended prematurely that Tuesday morning.”
During the remembrance, an age-old firefighter tradition was observed to honor those lost in the attacks – the sounding of a bell.
“The fire service of today is ever changing, but is steeped in traditions more than 200 years old,” said Sgt. Emily Bradshaw, 6th Military Police Detachment military firefighter, during the ceremony. “In the past, as a firefighter began the tour of duty, it was the bell that signaled the beginning of that day’s shift. Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and to place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizens. When the fire was out and the alarm had come to an end, it was the bell that signaled to all the completion of that call.”
When a firefighter fell in the line of duty, it was the mournful toll of the bell that announced a comrade’s passing, and these traditions are utilized as symbols to reflect honor and respect on those who have given so much of themselves, said Bradshaw. To symbolize the devotion “that these brave souls” have for their duty, a special signal of three bells, three times each, representing the end of the comrade’s duties and that they will be returning to quarters.
“The men and women of today’s fire service are confronted with a more dangerous work environment than ever before. Our methods may change, but our goals remain the same as they have in the past – to save lives and protect property, sometimes at a terrible cost,” she said. “To those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man, their task completed, their duty well done, to our comrades their last alarm – they’re going home.”
Posted in the Army Flier – September 17, 2014
Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff Writer