9/11 Remembrance Statement of NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch

I was at home in Kansas when I first saw the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center north tower at 8:46 am. When the second plane hit the south tower at 9:07 am it was obvious what was going on. We all remember where we were – just as our parents or grandparents knew where they were when John F. Kennedy died. It felt like a belly kick to each of us. But when that south tower came down at 9:39 I remember distinctly a sick feeling knowing that so many people had likely died – including firefighters and other responders who had been working to save lives. This feeling was only made worse with the knowledge that the Pentagon was hit at 9:37, the crash of Flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania at 10:03, and then when the second tower came down at 10:28.

It was a rapid succession of events. To this day I cannot watch video footage of those planes crashing or of the buildings coming down. I know how that story ends. It ends up with innocent lives on those planes and in those buildings being taken for absolutely no reason. It ends up with the lives of firefighters, EMS personnel, and law enforcement officers being taken while doing their job. And, equally as bad, it ended up with a people gripped with fear and willing to terminate some of their liberties because of that fear. What did those unfortunate people on those planes, in those buildings, or those that responded in fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars do to those wicked people who despised our way of life? Nothing!

Yet the villains did not win, because out of that horror, we rose together as a nation. We can never forget what these brave citizens and first responders did that day and for the weeks thereafter. We can never forget the challenges we face and how we work to overcome them. We can never forget how very blessed we are to live in America. There are those that hate our country because they despise – and yet don’t understand what liberty is all about. Some of those live abroad and some live much closer. But they are no match for the American spirit.

The damage that was wrought on that day 19 years ago was physical for many of our fellow citizens and our fellow first responders, but it was psychological for the rest of the nation. And yet day in and day out across America, first responders turn out to put out the fires, to open up the cars that have wrecked, and to compassionately and professionally care for our neighbors when they have a medical crisis.

So what can we do to honor the memory of those we lost on 9/11 and its aftermath? Well for one we can pray for the families of those that were lost, we can lift up the families of our first responders who gave their all (including those that continue to suffer from PTSD and cancer from their work at Ground Zero), we can tell our children about what a blessing it is to be an American, and we can strive to make this America better every day. We are not going to live in fear. We are going to continue the tradition of liberty, equal rights, justice, and just a general pursuit of happiness.

I am so proud of what the fire service and our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and EMS did on 9/11 and what they continue to do every day for their neighbors and for the nation. God bless each of you for what you do to protect the people of this country – your neighbors and mine. God bless the fire service and other first responders – and God bless the United States of America.

Note: 9/11 is a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Americans across the country are called upon to volunteer in tribute to those who were lost or injured in the attacks. Learn more and find a volunteer opportunity here. Fire departments across the country are also in need of more volunteers – find an opportunity at www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org.