Uniformed firefighters, police officers and a small crowd gathered in the Monroe Fire Station parking lot on Shelton Road on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to pay their respects to all who lost their lives on that fateful day.
"It was a day just like this one, a sunny Tuesday," Monroe Fire Chief Bill Davin told those assembled before him. "September 11,2001, a day that changed American history forever, a day that America 'will never forget.' A day when terrorists speared airliners into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. A day that spread fear throughout America, as we were attacked on our own soil."
Davin said how most people know exactly where they were at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane went into the tower.
The chief honored the courageous passengers who caught wind of the plan to fly their plane into the U.S. Capitol Building and overtook their captors and made sure it did not reach its intended target.
"Our local schools released children early, parents left work to be home with their families, the President addressed the nation to ensure us all we were safe," Davin said. "But the emergency services did not close up. Essential services continued and the general public was more aware of our existence than ever before. How quick they forget."
Davin recalled how a total of 2,749 lives were lost that day, including 58 New York City police and Port Authority officers, 15 EMS workers, three court officers, "and 343 of our brothers and sisters from the FDNY".
"None of those heroes hesitated in entering the towers to perform their duties, some were caught unaware in the Pentagon all doing the job they loved," he said. "Families destroyed never to be the same again."
Davin said he had the opportunity to meet with FDNY Chief Ray Downy, special operations commander, and invite him into the Monroe fire station.
"Chief Downy was no different than the rest of us," Davin said. "He was a down to earth guy who loved and lived for the job. It's strange how things work out. I can still see the chief's FDNY car parked in front."
"Eleven years ago tomorrow, our nation joined together and made a pledge," Davin said. "It stated we'd 'never forget'. These words first appeared on hand painted signs near ground zero, and they were later spoken by the President George W. Bush when he traveled to ground zero to observe the damage first hand. In the weeks, months and even years that followed, 'Never Forget' became the words used to express our nation's determination to get revenge against those responsible for the brutal attacks.
"So many things have changed in 11 years. First responder training, emergency service protocols, cooperation among emergency services — not only on the local level, but on the regional level. The list can go on for many pages.
"In closing, I ask you to 'Never Forget' as we cannot expect others to remember unless we, the emergency services, do."
The Bell Tolls
Monroe Emergency Management Dir. David York, a former Stevenson fire chief, led everyone in prayer and noted how tragedies can bring out the best in people. Among them are "a great sense of community", volunteerism, "a sense of comraderie", "mutual aid", and forming organizations to help people to deal with loss.
York said that kind of positive growth will help our society to rebuild.
The bell at the fire station was rung 15 times, in three intervals of five. It rang out 5-5-5, the signal the New York City Fire Department uses when one of its firefighters did not return from duty, according to Firefighter Jim Eastwood.