‘Never forget’: Greenfield firefighters, police hold 9/11 remembrance ceremony

  • Greenfield firefighter Luke Dejnak, left, repositions an American flag blown over by the wind while Fire Chief Robert Strahan speaks during Friday’s ceremony at the Greenfield Fire Station to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

  • Fire Lt. Peter McIver rings a bell to honor the 343 firefighters killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Fire Chief Robert Strahan stands to the far left and Capt. Alex Cooley stands behind FDNY flag.

  • Members of the Greenfield Fire and Police departments stand at attention at the Greenfield Fire Station during Friday’s ceremony to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2020 3:59:23 PM
Modified: 9/11/2020 3:59:08 PM

GREENFIELD — It is unlikely anyone 19 years ago would have imagined Americans would be commemorating one national emergency while in the midst of another.

Greenfield firefighters, police officers and private citizens convened at the Greenfield Fire Station Friday morning for a ceremony to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those in attendance wore masks and kept a distance from one another to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner started the ceremony by saying “the bravery shown by the first responders on 9/11 is something we should never forget.”

“And we see it played out every day in our own hometowns and all over the country — whether they’re fighting fires, doing their police work, off in the forest doing forest fires. Every day is a day of bravery for our first responders,” she added in front of the station’s 9/11 memorial that includes an American flag and a painted mural of a famous image of three New York City firefighters raising a flag at Ground Zero that fateful day.

Al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Two struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center, while another was flown into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., after some passengers attempted to take back control of the plane. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

Fire Chief Robert Strahan said the attacks’ anniversary is a day when the rest of the country joins those in the public safety field in remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“But that’s not the end of the story,” he said. “We are losing firefighters that responded to Ground Zero at an alarming rate due to Sept. 11 illness, as it’s called.”

Before closing the ceremony, there was a minute of silence and then Strahan announced Lt. Peter McIver would repeatedly ring a bell to remember the victims of the attacks. He explained a bell is rung at the start of a firefighter’s shift, at the end of the shift and for their “last alarm,” a way to honor one that has died.

“We will always remember them as first responders, and that is why we are gathered here together 19 years later. We all know where we were that day and we all know the tragedy that played out,” he said. “So we are here to remember the men and women that we have lost — not only as a country, but specifically for our first responder family, our brothers, our sisters, that lost their lives that day.”

Capt. Alex Cooley recited “The Firefighter’s Prayer” before the ceremony ended.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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