With heavy hearts, much of Beaumont’s fire, EMS and police community gathered Sept. 11, 2012, to commemorate those first responders who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Members of the Coast Guard, West Brook ROTC and veterans groups donned their military uniforms, making the scene at Fire Station No. 1 at 767 College in Beaumont a professional and somber remembrance.
A huge and flowing American flag was saluted while at half mast as a Navy bugler played taps, causing some to become visibly emotional.
“On 9/11 when we watched what was happening up there with those firefighters, in our mind, it was, ‘What would we do in the same situation?’” said Brad Penisson, chief spokesman for the Beaumont Fire Department. “You’ve got this camaraderie. If a firefighter from New York walks in here, he’s gonna be treated like our own. ... They would do the same thing for us up there.”Like Beaumont, much of the nation held ceremonies and memorials to remember the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Word Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama attended a ceremony at the Pentagon and thousands gathered for the ceremony at ground zero in New York.
A familiar theme resonated from all the ceremonies.
“What I want to say to the first responders here is that even if other people forget, we can’t forget,” said Beaumont’s fire chief, Anne Huff.
Beaumont’s top fire official compared 9/11 to the sinking of the Lusitania in the years prior to the United States’ entry into World War I, saying Americans tend to forget the reasons for war.
“In a hundred years, people — the public — may not remember 9/11 to the extent we remember it today because the collective memory really is kinda short,” she said. “How many people today know about the Lusitania even though it was one of the most significant events that happened in the 20th century?”
Executive director Robert Taylor of Beaumont’s LifeShare Blood Centers said Beaumont residents did their part to help the victims of 9/11. But 11 years later, the blood bank doesn’t have anywhere near the donors who came on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Here in Beaumont, 317 people came that day and gave blood. The next year 211 came. In 2003, 182,” he said. “Last year we had 35 who came and gave blood. People tend to forget.”
Beaumont’s police chief expressed his pride in the city’s first responders, ending the ceremony on a positive note.
“This is a celebration. It’s not a day to be sad,” Jimmy Singletary said. “It’s a day to remember what happened to us on 9/11 and why we’re closer and stronger as a nation.”