As iron sharpens iron: Remembering 9/11
By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead, 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
/ Published October 01, 2011
ENFIELD, Conn. -- For some people, remembering what they did five minutes ago--never mind 10 years ago--can be quite challenging. But not surprisingly, most people remember exactly where they were, what they were doing and what they said when the United States of America was attacked Sept. 11, 2001. That special place in our memories of those terrorist attacks is a testament to the fact that Americans will never forget. Moreover, every year on the anniversary of 9/11, people all across the nation gather to remember and honor those heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that others may have a chance at life.
This year was no different, but then again, it could not have been the same. On Sept. 11, 2011, 10 years after the terrorist attacks, the firefighters of Weymouth Road Fire Station in Enfield invited everyone out to participate in their annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony. And like in years past, they placed their memory wreath and said their words and collectively people remembered. This year however, the ceremony carried more weight as the firefighters unveiled two iron beams from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
"This is sacred ground as far as we are concerned, and all are welcome to come down and share it," said Fire Chief Edward Richards.
Both of the beams are serialized artifacts and were transported to Connecticut with the help of Joe Courtney on February 10, 2011.
According to Joe Courtney, U.S. Congressman for Connecticut's 2nd district, acquiring the beams is not an easy process and the Enfield firefighters brought something very special to Connecticut. It took roughly 18 months and a lot of paperwork to get the beams, but from all who attended the ceremony, it seemed well worth it.
"Just touch it," said Ronald Squiers, president, Board of Fire Commissioners, teary-eyed as he reached over to touch the beams. It was then that the crowd gathered closer to the beams to touch them and somehow reconnect to that cool, crisp Tuesday morning 10 years earlier.
In those 10 years, America has changed. More than 16,000 Connecticut Servicemembers have deployed in response to 9/11 and, to some, the definition of hero has changed.
"After 9/11, I couldn't be prouder to be an American, or in the military," said Col. Peter Siana, director of joint operations for the Connecticut Air National Guard, who was asked to speak at the event. "You couldn't go by a house or place of business without an American flag flying in front of it."
Some flags were even flying over Iraq, literally. As a token of appreciation and on behalf of the 103rd Airlift Wing, Col. Siana presented the Enfield fire department with a flag that has been flown over Iraq on three separate occasions. In fact, the flag was flying over Iraq by a Connecticut Air National Guard pilot in an A-10 Thunderbolt II when the two towers were struck.
While the day and ceremony had a somber air to them, state senator John Kissell reminded the crowd, "our best days are ahead of us."
"It is up to us as teachers and parents to teach our children about 9/11," said Kissell as he reflected from what he had observed as he walked in the parade before the ceremony. Kissell said he was amazed at how many two and three-year-olds there were at the event waving and participating despite having not experienced 9/11.
So who will remember September 11 when we are no longer around? Will it just become another page in the annals of history? With the hard work and dedication of ensuring our children's children are passed the experiences and artifacts that brought a nation together, history may find that we, as Americans, will never forget.