First responders gather at the Peace Arch to remember 9/11’s fallen

New York City tragedy ‘brought out the best in human spirit’

First responders from both sides of the border gathered this morning at Peace Arch Park to honour those who gave their lives to help others during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and those who, 16 years later, continue to serve and protect, both in their own backyard, and around the world.

Police, firefighters, paramedics, politicians and civilians converged on the international border between South Surrey, B.C. and Blaine, Wash., to remember a tragedy that both devastated and strengthened.

“On Sept. 11, my department lost 23 members. Matt’s lost 343,” New York Police Department Sgt. Kevin Lynch told the crowd, referring also to the enormous impact the attacks – which killed nearly 3,000 that day – had on the city’s fire department, which was represented Monday by Matthew Zimpfer.

“Think about those numbers for a minute, because a number’s just a number until you think about the fact that each one of those people had a family that they cared about, had people they loved and people who loved them.

“But they did what first responders always do, and that’s run to whoever needs help.”

One after another, speakers stood, acknowledging the “heartbreaking and devastating acts of violence” of that day, but returning always to give thanks and acknowledge the partnerships and resolve that strengthened in the wake of the tragedy.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Blaine area port Director Kenneth Williams posed, and answered, the question, “are we truly safer?”

“I can stand here with confidence and say yes,” Williams said, citing improvements in security measures in the years since 9/11, and ones to come.

“For those who wish to do us harm, we are sending a clear message.”

Vancouver Police Department Supt. Mike Porteous said that while the border may divide the U.S. and Canada, “we are human beings and fellow first responders, brothers and sisters.”

“Together we stand in the face of tragedy, remembering our fallen heroes and carrying on in their names. We will remember,” Porteous said.

South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts, representing Canada in the ceremony, echoed the call to “always remember” those who died.

U.S. Consul General Katherine Dhanani said the day was to remember “those brave men and women who gave everything for strangers they never knew simply because it was in them to respond as heroes.”

Lynch told the crowd that he doesn’t feel like a hero for his actions on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I feel like a person who did my job, and I think that’s what every first responder would mention when asked why they do it,” he said.

“It was a horrible day for us, as a city, as a nation and as a world, but in the days, and the weeks, months and the years that have followed, it’s brought out the best in the human spirit.”

 

The U.S. colour guard and other first responders at Peace Arch Park Monday, where a memorial was held to honour those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

Course veterans seize victory in Peach City Classic

The first place titles in this year’s triathlon belonged to returning competitors.

Your reviews: John Fogerty rocks the South Okanagan

Photos and reviews from fans in Penticton at John Fogerty’s concert in the SOEC

Sparks fly after dirt bike accident near Tulameen

Trail society says the RDOS should have prevented crash

Visitors see what a veterinarian’s work entails

BC SPCA Penticton Veterinarian Hospital hosts open house.

Dancing to a different beat

The Nankama Drum and Dance troupe held a community drum circle Saturday

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Kelowna families honour the dead by releasing butterflies

The Nicholson matriarchs release 33 butterflies

Vernon writers launch online workshop for teens, young adults

Storymakers’ Raise Your Voice workshop seeks to help women writers uncover and use voice

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

East Shuswap Road wildfire’s fire line being controlled

Firefighters saved an eagle’s nest and eaglets while controlling fire lines

Most Read