The anniversary of one of the most significant tragedies in United States history sees first responders and community members come together to remember those lost.
Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of more than 3,000 emergency service members and civilians. HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital on Clairemont Avenue in Eau Claire held a service in its lobby Wednesday morning; more than 100 service members, hospital personal and community members came together to honor local emergency service members on the anniversary of the day when America changed forever.
Robin Schultz, director of emergency services for HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, said the anniversary of 9/11 reminds her of the delicacy of life and the sacrifice and courage first responders display every day they go into work.
“We remember the heroism of those who lost their lives while saving ours,” Schultz said. “It is right that this day should not pass from our memory. We want to thank all of our fellow responders both nationally and locally that continue these rescue efforts daily.”
Members of the Eau Claire Fire Department were on hand during the event, including Jon Schultz, deputy chief of EMS operations for the Eau Claire Fire Department, who said the duties an emergency service member takes on are still largely misunderstood by the general populous.
“Many do not understand the job,” Schultz said. “Many people ask why we’d go into a smoke-filled burning building. My answer is that it’s the job. It’s what we do. We go into an incident thinking it’s going to be bad and we have to get everybody out. The concept of the unthinkable occurring, such as a building going down or someone going through the floor is something we have to deal with, but we’ve trained for safety and maintain a heightened situational awareness.”
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Similar to other prominent dates in United States history, those who were alive during 9/11 remember where they were and what they were doing when they saw the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City fall to the ground that fateful morning. Jon Schultz said he was with his wife and two-week-old son at the time. He said his wife asked him what kind of world they had brought their son — and two future sons — into. The days after 9/11 are what defined his response to his wife, he said.
“We brought him into a world where the people of this country come together during times of crisis and are there for each other in times of tragedy,” Schultz said. “Remember September 12th? What did you see on almost every building you passed by? Old Glory, the U.S. flag displayed proudly indicating this country will stand together in the wake of catastrophe.”
A total of 343 FDNY firefighters, two FDNY paramedics, 37 Port Authority police officers, 23 NYPD police officers, eight EMTs from ambulance services and 2,977 civilians lost their lives on 9/11. An additional 6,000 individuals were injured. But now that every person alive during the tragedy is an adult, a new legacy of emergency service members are taking the reins.
Schultz said the FDNY is set to introduce 13 new legacy firefighters this year who are children of men and women who lost their lives on the day of 9/11. Schultz said their willingness to take up the profession their parents died for is courageous and a true example of what it means to be an emergency service member.
Wednesday morning at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital was one showing of support and appreciation for emergency service providers, who hope they’ll continue to receive support both on the anniversary of 9/11 and every day between.