Statement of NVFC Chairman Steve Hirsch for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
September 1, 2021
To many of us, September 11, 2001, is very vivid and real. We remember where we were and what we were doing on that day. We geared up for what we knew was an attack on the homeland, not knowing if more were coming from a bunch of terrorists that killed innocent civilians and hundreds of first responders. We repeat the phrase “never forget,” and we emblazon it on our equipment, on T-shirts and on our web sites.
I was born in January of 1962. Pearl Harbor was just 20 years before that. I don’t remember my parents talking about Pearl Harbor even though my father was a veteran of World War II. I don’t recall it being mentioned in school as a recent event. I mention all this because we are now 20 years from the events of that terrible day in 2001. I often hear news reporters talk about things that are horrific. If only they knew. Many of the things they talk about, while bad, aren’t necessarily horrific. September 11 was horrific. It caused us, as a nation, to rethink the way we go about our daily business. It caused us to limit our freedoms in many ways. We were fearful. I suspect my parents and grandparents were fearful too of the events of December 7, 1941, but their fear did not overwhelm their faith in this nation and the ideals that it stood for. Firefighters were killed on December 7 – not as many as on September 11, but they gave the ultimate sacrifice. Many don’t even know that firefighters were killed at Pearl Harbor, and I am afraid that we are fast approaching a time when we may indeed forget the details of September 11 as a society.
If you do nothing else this September 11, try and educate a young person about what it was like to live through that day. It isn’t because they want to forget, it is because no one is telling them of those events. Make sure to tell them about the first responders that rushed into danger while others were trying to get away from it. And make sure you tell them about the first responders that have died since that day due to the physical and psychological health issues involved with the response in New York City. On the day that I am writing this statement, news sources are reporting that first responders are not being allowed in to attend the memorial service at ground zero on September 11, 2021 – this being just another way of forgetting the events of that day.
I, for one, and I believe millions of Americans are keeping September 11 in our collective consciousness. We will continue to remember the hundreds of first responders killed that day, and we will remember our citizens that died when the buildings in New York City and Washington, DC, came down and when the plane crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania. We will remember those men and women who serve their communities as first responders who have died since 9/11, and we will work diligently to make sure the survivors are taken care of.
It was a terrible day. It’s been a terrible 20 years. It gets worse when we forget – and when we allow others to forget, or when the new generations aren’t told of the heroism of firefighters, EMS workers, and law enforcement personnel that fateful day. I think about them every time I see the American flag. I think about them when I see servicemen and women. I think about them every time I see a story about the FDNY. I can’t forget. I also can’t stop having faith in our nation, that those brave people didn’t die on that day so that our freedoms would collapse. In fact, just the opposite. That’s how we can really remember and honor the folks that died that day – by celebrating the freedoms that we have as Americans. That is why we were attacked – that is why we must never forget – and that is why we must cherish our freedoms even more.
God Bless the United States of America, and may God stretch out his protective hand over our first responders from coast to coast as they do the job of protecting their neighbors and our homeland.