OSWEGO – Members of the Oswego community and first responders gathered at the Oswego Fire Department Headquarters this morning to commemorate the 18 year anniversary of the four terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Almost 3,000 people died and over 6,000 were injured, many including first responders. Several people later died due to respiratory illnesses caused by the toxic dust of impact sites.
In honor of the victims of the attacks, the American flag at the station was lowered to half-staff for today, Patriot Day, and a moment of silence was observed, followed by recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. A bell rang in memory of and tribute to the lives of the firefighters and their service.
“What came of that tragedy should not be lost in grief. The unity and service to others in the moments, days and years after that horrible attack was seen around the world,” said Randy Griffin, Oswego City fire chief and emergency management director.
Griffin recited the timeline of the attacks, following the actions of New York City Battalion Chief Orio Palmer who died that day while rescuing people stuck in the remains of the World Trade Center.
“Today we honor such men like Chief Palmer and others like him who faced down danger to answer the needs of others, of people we never met to ensure that they would live another day,” Griffin said.
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow thanked the first responders involved in a procession earlier this morning to remember the people lost 18 years ago.
“[Sept. 11, 2001] is a day that sticks out to me personally because it shows the absolute worst that can happen and in the same day, within hours, shows the absolute best of what humanity and its society and what America has to offer,” Barlow said.
He remembered walking to school the day following the attacks and seeing that every house on his way to school had an American flag hanging.
“It just goes to show how strong of a country we are, how proud we should be to live in America, the greatest country on earth, how supportive we should be of our first responders, police and fire, and always remember what we stand for as a country and live that out each and every day,” Barlow said.
Oswego Police Chief Tory DeCaire remembered where he was 18 years ago when he first heard about the attacks.
He was taking a course in defensive tactics and had been taking a morning break with others in his class when the news reported on the first plane that struck the World Trade Center. They returned to class thinking it was a tragic accident.
“It wasn’t until our next break where our worst fears were confirmed. It was clear; America was under attack,” DeCaire said. “Cell phones ringing, pagers were going off – yes, pagers at the time – and in an instant, our once full class was depleted as officers were being called back to their home agencies for a threat for which the depths are still unknown.”
He said following the attacks, words such as “evil, tragedy and loss of life” soon became replaced by “bravery, resiliency and triumph over adversity.”
He said it is easy for him to remember the events of that day, but more and more of the younger generation being welcomed into emergency services were too young to remember.
“It becomes our duty and our responsibility to continue to convey to the others the feelings felt, the stories heard, and the lessons learned that day and the days following,” DeCaire said.