As time moves slowly away from the horrific terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a group of Person County veterans is making sure local residents don’t forget the sacrifices of firefighters, police and other emergency personnel on that day.
On Saturday morning at Person County Veterans Park, the Person County Veterans Council hosted a ceremony to remember the men and women who died in the largest single terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
“September 11, 2001 was the most tragic day in the history of emergency services,” Roxboro Chief of Police David Hess told the crowd of about 75 people gathered at the park.
Kenneth Clanton broke down the devastation. He told the crowd that the Sept. 11 attacks claimed the lives of 2,977 people. Of that number, 343 were firefighters and EMS workers. Another 37 were New York City police officers and 23 were Port Authority officers.
Roxboro fire chief Kenneth Torain spoke not only of the loss of life among firefighters that day, but the inherent risks all emergency responders face. Two years ago at the Patriot Day event, a LifeFlight helicopter was supposed to take part, but just days before the event a crash in eastern North Carolina claimed the lives of four people and grounded the flight.
Torain didn’t give up. On Saturday, he orchestrated a flyover by a Duke Lifeflight helicopter during his remarks.
He also remembered the firefighters who perished on Sept. 11. The number 343 is on our uniforms... It will never be forgotten,” Torain said. “After the 343, Torain noted that many others suffered from the effects of that day. “Another 5,000 suffered from upper respiratory illnesses, another 5,000 more from lower respiratory illnesses,” Torain said.
Torain recalled sending out a signal for help in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington. “We asked for anybody willing to help. But I had more people than I had room for on the trucks,” Torain said. “We take everything we do seriously. We stand for the flag.”
Saturday’s ceremony included a number of ceremonial moments, including the ringing of the four fives, a fire department tradition that commemorates the death of a firefighter. American Legion Post 138 chaplain Chris Talley led a wreath laying ceremony that included representatives of several local law enforcement and emergency services agencies, each of whom laid a hat representing their agency in front of the red, white and blue wreath.
Roxboro firefighters Robert Miller and Blake Whitt performed Amazing Grace on the bagpipes and drums respectively. And the Roxboro Police Department honor guard fired a gunfire salute before Conrad Kimbrough rendered Taps.