Posted at: 09/11/2013 11:37 PM
| Updated at: 09/11/2013 11:41 PM
By: Dan Levy
SELKIRK - Most Americans remember exactly where they were and what they were doing twelve years ago on September 11, 2001. For area firefighters, Wednesday night was a time to pay tribute. For area high school students, it was also a time to remember.
At the Selkirk Fire House, the names of 343 firefighters who died at Ground Zero were read one by one. Each given the reverence and respect that is due all heroes, each comrade, and every family member. That's how they see things at the Selkirk Fire Department.
"We lost 343 firefighters in New York City," says Selkirk Fire Chief Bill Asprion, "Some of those firefighters had families up here in the Albany area, including Selkirk. We had some members that were down there that succumbed to illness after that was well."
The Selkirk Fire House was one of many Capital Region venues were people reflected on the 911 anniversary. There was a memorial ceremony at the Water's Edge Lighthouse in Glenville. There was also a gathering of high school seniors at the New York State Museum.
It was at the museum where teenagers had a chance to share their thoughts and their essays on 911, which turns out to be especially challenging given they were only in kindergarten at the time.
"When I was five years old it was terrifying," says Judsen Hoffman, a high school senior. "I didn't know what happened. I saw towers on the tv on fire, planes crashing into towers, and smoke coming out of the towers. I just saw my mom crying so I hugged her. I didn't know what was going on."
"My family had three friends who had worked in the building and they all died that day," said Alisha Gandhi, also a high school senior. "I could see my grandmother crying."
Back at the Selkirk Fire House, the remembrance was interrupted by reality. Wednesday night's storm had sent trees crashing down on top of electric wires, which sent firefighters in full formal dress scurrying for their lockers to don firefighting gear.
It was a stark reminder of the risks inherent to the job, and also a reminder of what 343 heroes were willing to do twelve years earlier.
"There were firefighters that came in from all over the world during 911," Chief Asprion recalled. "Unannounced, uncalled for, showed up on the doorstep saying, "Hey, we're here to help."
A dozen years later, most Americans know that nearly 3,000 people lost their lives at Ground Zero. What they may not realize is that 25,000 other lives were saved that day, and manyh of them have courageous firefighters to thank for it.