| Oct 02, 2008

Oct 2/08 - SF firefighters attend 9/11 ceremony

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Feature Article - October 2, 2008 Sydenham firefighters attend 9/11 Ceremony in New YorkBy Julie Druker

South Frontenac volunteer firefighters Bryson Brown, Dan Nelson and Captain Rick Nelson, all of Station 5 in Loughborough District, recently traveled to “Ground Zero” in New York City for a memorial ceremony commemorating the terrorist attacks of September 11.

This was the second time for Brown, who organized both this and last year’s trips, and it is an important event for him. “It was one of the reasons why I became a firefighter two years ago.The tragedy was an event that really hit home for me.”

The ceremony was organized by the “Families of September 11th”. Relatives of those who perished that day were sent invitations by the mayor of New York City. Participants included families, paramedics, firefighters, emergency personnel, doctors and nurses. Anyone else who wished to attend had to apply months in advance for an invitation.

Brown contacted the “Families of September 11th” and they helped to arrange the inclusion of Sydenham firefighters in the event.

The ceremony took place at Zuccotti Park right across from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Streets were barricaded off and only those with invitations were allowed into the ceremonial parade square.

The mayor gave a speech and a choir sang the national anthem. Names of the victims were read off by representatives of their various countries of origin.

After a name was read, a relative would then proceed to walk down a long ramp into the heart of Ground Zero. The ramp ended at a pool, where the relative then placed a single rose.

Bryson described how “the reading of names continued for hours. He added, “The chain link fence surrounding the site was totally covered in photos and flowers placed by those at the ceremony and by city folk paying their respects.”

During the ceremony, a bell was rung at the exact times that each of the planes hit as well as when the two towers collapsed .

Bryson found the event very moving. “There were lots of emotions and lots of tears”. He said he spoke to a number of US emergency staff who were at the ceremony and found that “some would share their personal experiences of that day while others tended to keep it to themselves.”

He was amazed at the warm reception his party of three was given by everyone they met. “They love us down there…they treat us like royalty.” The three firefighters toured the city after the ceremony, still dressed in their uniforms, and were graciously treated to free tours of the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty. They visited the National September 11th Memorial Museum, which was built last year right across the street from Ground Zero.

Brown has every intention to return yearly. He also hopes to one day visit Shanksville, PA, the site where United flight 93 came down.

He later reflected on his decision to become a firefighter rather than a policeman. ”Firefighting runs in the family (Brown's uncle was a fire chief at Quinte West).. and it gives me more of a chance to make someone else’s life better. Every call we get is a chance to be able to do that.”

Without a doubt, many of those called to action on that fateful day seven years ago entered those towers with very similar intentions.

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