Hendersonville residents reflected on one of the darkest days in U. S. history at several events and displays marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 over the weekend.
As they have since 2002, the Hendersonville Fire Department hosted a memorial service on Saturday for those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Serving as a backdrop to the service at Memorial Park was a monument dedicated to first responders late last year that includes a piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center towers. The local fire department obtained the object years ago from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Senior Firefighter and HFD Chaplain Randy Compton started the somber service with a reading recalling the human toll of that horrific day.
Two-hundred and forty-six people died aboard airplanes hi-jacked by terrorists; 2,606 people died going to work at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Also lost were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and eight paramedics, Compton noted.
Each had gone to bed on the night of Sept. 10.
“None of them saw past 9:00 on Sept. 11, 2001,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion at times. “In one single moment, life may never be the same.”
In a slight departure from past memorial services, Compton read another passage detailing the selflessness of New York firefighters – even those who were off-duty at the time.
“Without hesitation they left their families and their plans behind – courageously responding,” he said.
Members of the local fire department commemorated that service by walking in front of attendees – some in uniform, others in their fire fighter gear and some even in every day attire. A few retired members of HFD also participated.
“Just like that day, without hesitation they are responding,” said Compton. “The commitment displayed by those men and women 20 years ago is the same commitment we have in the Hendersonville Fire Department today. When the call goes out for help, we respond without hesitation. Courageously and without fear.”
Following the firefighters’ entrance, the HFD Honor Guard conducted the traditional toning of the bell that signals a line of duty death.
“The Hendersonville Fire Department wants everyone to know we will never forget the tragic events of that day,” said HFD Deputy Chief Mike Holt.
Holt said the day is also a good time to acknowledge the sacrifices all first responders make for the safety of others on a daily basis.
He recalled an event at which NYFD Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer, the first chief to arrive at the Twin Towers on 9/11, was asked to define what a true hero is.
Pfiefer’s definition - someone who does ordinary things during extraordinary times so that others may live - defines all of those who wear the uniform today, Holt added.
“Let us not forget that the attacks of Sept. 11 were intended to break our spirit,” he said.
“At that time, we emerged stronger and more unified as a nation and understood the respect for human life… God Bless the United States, God bless all of us who serve and God bless every one of you who here,” Holt concluded.
Also on Saturday at Sanders Ferry Park, the Remembering our Fallen national memorial made a stop in Hendersonville during the Bass Pro U.S. Open fishing tournament.
Hosted by Bass Pro Shops, the tournament invited the national memorial that displays more than 5,000 military and personal photos of those who have lost their lives while serving in the military since Sept. 11, 2001.
Also on display was a wall with the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11 as well as a sea of flags commemorated each life lost on that day.
For more information about the national Remembering our Fallen exhibit or the company that makes it possible, go to www.patrioticproductions.org.