President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941 — the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor — “a date which will live in infamy.” But who among us will effort forget the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001 when 15 terrorists armed with box cutters hijacked three commercial jetliners full of civilians and flew them into the World Trade Center buildings in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
Other terrorists apparently intended to make the U.S. Capitol building their target also hijacked a fourth plane, but the passengers confronted them in flight and all 44 souls were lost and four hijackers killed when the plane crashed short of its target in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Just before the crash, passenger Todd Beamer famously asked several passengers who sought to regain control of the jet liner, “Are you guys ready? Okay. Let’s roll.”
Nearly 60 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, our nation was attacked again on Sept. 11 — this time by terrorists led by Osama Bin Laden — and another generation of Americans had another infamous date searing into their consciousness.
Yes, we Americans will never forget the nearly 3,000 innocent civilians and military personnel who died in the attacks. Sept. 11 has become a solemn day for the first responders — a day when we honor the law enforcement officers and firefighters who put aside their personal safety and perished when the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City collapsed as they rendered aid to those helpless souls trapped in the burning buildings.
According to New York Magazine, 343 firefighters and paramedics lost their lives that day along with 23 New York City police officers and 37 New York Port Authority police officers. The New York City Fire Department lost 98 vehicles that day, and the fires burned for more than three months. At least one firefighter from 75 different firehouses from across New York City died on Sept. 11.
Here in Susanville, our city fire department will honor those first responders who died on 9/11 with a brief ceremony Monday, Sept. 11 in front of the fire station on Main Street. The public is invited to assemble about 6:30 a.m. and the fire department will serve coffee and refreshments. A color guard from the California Correction Center also is expected to participate in the ceremony.
We join in honoring those brave souls who gave their lives trying to protect others. And we also recognize our local first responders who also put themselves at risk with every call — they are willing to lose everything for people they don’t even know simply because that is their job or their sworn duty.
Here in Susanville, we remember the throng of brave men and women who rushed into those burning skyscrapers to rescue others trapped by the flames 16 years ago this week, only to have those buildings fall all around them. We shall never forget their courage, commitment and sacrifice that day. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 are etched in our memory forever.
Once again, we have an opportunity to visit our local fire station and offer our respects to those who answered the call for aid from the innocent victims of these terrorist attacks and lost everything in their effort to serve.