Stevensville Fire Department hosted a moving memorial service Monday to honor police, firefighters and civilians who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attack on our country.
Although emergency vehicles drove the length of Main Street with their lights flashing, the procession did not draw a crowd. Fewer than 20 community members attended the service, with eight American Legion color guard, and 16 firemen and police officers.
“Over the years that we have been doing this event we have seen the attendance decrease and increase depending on the year, and we see different demographics attend too,” said Brandon Dewey, administrative assistant and event organizer. “It’s not necessarily important that the events are well attended, but what’s important is that our community remembers the sacrifices that so many fellow Americans made on Sept. 11, and the risks that our emergency responders and armed forces take every day to keep us safe and prevent the worst in humanity.”
Dewey said he expects the Stevensville memorial program to change and adapt as the audience does.
“Those who were small children on the day of the attacks are now entering adulthood and don’t remember 9/11 the way that most of our society remembers it,” he said. “We’ll have to start gearing our memorials toward educating people on what the event means to us and how it changed the world.”
Fire Chief Jeff Motley gave a welcome and American Legion Post 94 posted the colors.
Rather than read the list of the names of the 2,977 people who died in the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, Police Chief James Marble played a video he created with the names and photographs of officers who responded and died, accompanied by the sounds of the emergency band radio traffic in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
He included the names and photos of the officers who have died due to illness directly related to that day.
Marble said he was a young officer just two years into serving his community when the event happened.
“I think it had a profound effect on everybody,” he said. “Everybody in law enforcement was thinking of what those officers did and their sacrifices. When you look back you see their risks and that they kept going, knowing they could succumb to the event.”
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Marble said he admires the actions of emergency responders to the World Trade Center.
“I’m amazed at the courage they had to be able to run into that building to protect and save people,” he said. “One officer kept entering and bringing people to safety. He ended up dying in the collapse of the first tower but even though he had so much fatigue and saw despair, injury and death he kept pushing through.”
Marble said taking time for the memorial is important to the community, the brotherhood of police and firefighters, and the next generation.
“People forget what this is about,” he said. “I think it is incumbent on us to teach the younger generation so that it is not forgotten. I experienced a full gambit of emotions – anger and sorrow – and so many felt the same way.”
On Monday as the video played, Stevensville fire fighters stood in front the ladder truck. Many had tears streaming down their faces – obviously moved by the radio chatter, recollections, and loss of 16 years ago.
Former Fire Chief Bill Perrin, Brandon Dewey and Bo Thola (captain) read the names of fire fighters that perished.
Fire Cadet Kevin Clinnin read “The Last Alarm” with a ceremony to recognize the 200-year old tradition that reflects the honor and respect of the ringing of the bell: three rings for the end of duties or a mournful tolling when a comrade died.
“To those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man, their tasks completed, their duties well done, to our comrades, their last alarm, they are going home,” Clinnin said.
A moment of silence was followed by bagpiper Mike Langston.