OSWEGO – Representatives of the Oswego Fire and Police departments, the Coast Guard and other first responders gathers Tuesday for a solemn memorial at the Fire Department’s headquarters.
On display near the podium was a chunk of a steel beam from the World Trade Center – a grim reminder of the Port City’s connection to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
“Although difficult to conceive even today, yet even harder to watch play out at the time, what came from that tragedy should not be lost,” Fire Chief Randy Griffin told the large crowd of officers, firefighters and many other others.
About a block south, two flag bearers stood at the edge of East Park displaying a large flag and a remembrance sign. Occasionally, the remarks at the fire station were blotted out by the sounds of motorists blowing their horns in support.
Mayor Billy Barlow said it was an honor to “remember and honor the lives of that we lost on September 11, 2001.”
Approximately 343 firefighters, 60 police officers were among the victims that day, he added.
It is an honor to re[resent the people of Oswego – including the members of the police and fire departments – each and every day, because they are among the finest members of our community; “the heroes of our local community,” the mayor said.
The first responders wake up every day and don’t know what might come their way, and their families have to live with that same sense of anxiety, he said.
“September 11 is a special day where we remember our first responders because of the events that happened to our country back in 2001,” Barlow said. “It should remind us of the aspects of their job that they face each and every day.”
September 11, 2001, was one of the days that people remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the new.
The mayor was in the sixth grade at the time and remembers a teacher coming into his class and telling his teacher what was going and his teacher informed the class.
“The most vivid memory I have wasn’t from September 11, 2001. It was September 12, 2001,” he explained. “When I was walking back to school, I clearly remember every single house on the walk to school was displaying the American Flag, which I had never seen before.”
The mayor said he still feels that same sense of pride and patriotism and be fortunate enough to live in America.
“I think it took September 11, 2001, to make people appreciate our country. And, I think it’s important that every September 11 we be a little extra patriotic and make sure that patriotism lives through each and every day.”
September 11 is more than just a date on the calendar, OPD Chief Tory DeCarie said.
In the hours after the attack, the world was trying to process what happened.
“We began to equate September 11 with words like ‘evil’ and ‘tragedy,’” he said.
“Those in emergency services worked side-by-side without regard to the badge on their shoulder or whether they arrived in a police car or fire truck,” he continued. “It didn’t take long before words like ‘bravery,’ ‘resilient’ and ‘triumph over adversity’ began to emerge. Those words have echoed for the last 17 years.”
The men and women who responded that day “did what we do on a daily basis – respond, assess and help those in need,” the chief added. “As we remember those brave men and women and innocent civilians who lost their lives, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to those in emergency services and military; thank you for your professionalism and thank you for your dedication. Be safe. Watch out for one another and thank you for all you do.”
A bell was rung to mark the end of shift and honors those who died responding to the attack.
Rev. Brice Schrader offered prayers at the ceremony.
The day started bright and early.
“We started the day by participating in a short ceremonial run – parade with several other local emergency agencies and Team Red, White and Blue at approximately 6:30 a.m.,” said OFD Captain Paul Conzone. “We joined in a short procession from the Oswego Fire Department headquarters to East Bridge Street and across the bridge at West First Street. This is a very moving, yet quiet procession that has become a tradition in Oswego the last few years.”