Firefighter/paramedics and RCMP officers gathered at the Thompson Fire & Emergency Services (TFES) fire hall and marched to Spirit Way’s Northern Firefighters Tribute overlooking MacLean Park Sept. 11 to remember those who died 17 years ago in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“On a clear Tuesday morning Sept. 11 2001, 19 hijackers took over four fully loaded passenger jet aircraft, fully fuelled and flew one each into the twin towers in New York City of the World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon and one into a field in Pennsylvania,” said Thompson MLA Kelly Bindle. “2,977 innocent lives were lost and countless thousands of others ruined and affected. Those 19 hijackers had no respect for our peace or democracy or our love of life and our compassion. They successfully opened our eyes to our weaknesses. They had the strength to dent our steel, shake our foundation but they did not hurt of affect our resolve. That event killed 343 firefighters and medics in New York city – the largest loss in their history – 23 New York city police officers killed, 37 Port Authority and on top of that 125 military personnel killed at the Pentagon, all of these people dedicating their lives to the safety and protection of others. It hasn’t affected your resolve. It has brought to the forefront to the people you protect what you do. You risk your lives every day and we appreciate your compassion and we thank you.”
“Seventeen years ago the world changed forever,” said Mayor Dennis Fenske. “We’ve seen the results of that reach Paris, reach London, reach Canada, reach the United States in various acts since then. We still see the residual effects on the survivors, on the ones who experienced loss and especially on the fire/paramedic, RCMP, armed forces, special forces, the first responders, anybody that responded on site at 9/11 or throughout Canada in our case. The other side of that revolves around the mental anguish that you experience frequently throughout your career. So my emphasis to everyone that receives those calls is that throughout your life and through, your career, whether it’s during your active career or post-career, that you serve yourself first in the sense of mental health and support. You’ve paid a large price physically in the work that you do. It’s strenuous work but there’s also a strong mental component to that work. You need to be diligent in ensuring that you take care of your mind as well as your body. Any time that you feel yourself experiencing flashbacks or mental anguish at the experience that you’ve had as so many experienced on 9/11 that you seek help. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength and it may be today, it may be two weeks from today, it may be 20 years from today, but make sure that you seek the help that you require. We are so appreciative of every day that you put your uniforms on and go to work. We acknowledge that and we thank each and every one of you for that.”
“Emergency services is truly a lifestyle,” said firefighter/paramedic Jason Kuras. “You don’t get to go home and just forget about your job. It’s always there with you in the good times and in the bad. It’ll always be there so the people you can rely on are your family, your coworkers, your other family members. So for that we thank you and say we will always remember.”
Following the march to the Northern Firefighters Tribute, the ceremony ended with the recitation of the firefighters’ prayer.