Today marks a particularly poignant day of remembrance for first responders. The 19th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks arrives in the midst of massive wildfires. Firefighters gathered in solemnity to remember the sacrifices on that day.
“We hope now to offer a small bright spot on this solemn day,” said Lt. William Fitch, a firefighter with Engine 59 in New York City, recounted the importance of this day for firefighters. 343 firefighters joined the thousands of Americans who lost their lives in the wake of terrorist attacks 19 years ago.
“We talk about never forgetting,” he said. “And I can tell you that in every firehouse and I think in every New Yorker and certainly every American we think about September 11th every day.”
At a time when over two million acres of wildfires burn in California, Lt. Anthony Watts of the New York City Fire Department’s Engine 92 seemed as determined as ever. He recalls the camraderie firefighters share, and the shared bond they keep. Each are inspired by those who served during 9/11.
“There’s always a connection with other first responders,” he said. “Whether it’s firefighters or law enforcement. The duties of our job include you know putting your life at risk and trying to make a difference and impact the lives of somebody else that’s in need.”
Firefighters from around the country use Kern Valley High School as a base to house the firefighters bolstering local fire departments against wildfires. Coming from New York City, Fitch and Watts represent a particularly battle-hardened lineage of firemen. They volunteered to join the fight in California.
“This is Americans helping Americans, he said. “We’re happy to come across the United States and help. And there’s the teams that came to New York City in the days September 11th and helped us there. We’re happy to do it.”