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Firefighters will 'never forget' heroes of Sept. 11



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GFR student Ryan Cronin, firefighter Brian Blanchette, and call company member Lynn Latosek stand at attention during the 9/11 ceremony on Saturday morning, held at the fire station. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
September 15, 2010
Saturday marked the ninth anniversary the Sept. 11 attacks, a day those who lost loved ones will never forget, and a day that emergency services personnel have promised to reflect on for years to come.

Among the 3,000 victims who died in the attacks, the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City have been acknowledged for the sacrifice they made year after year at Gilford Fire Rescue.

Sixty NYC and Port Authority police officers also lost their lives that day.

GFR Fire Chief John Beland said he will honor the fallen firefighters who lost their lives on that tragic day as long as he works at the station.

"We appreciate the fact that you haven't forgotten this horrific incident on 9/11," Beland said to the crowd Friday morning standing by the flagpole.

The memorial started with a traditional ringing of the bells, known as the tolling of the bell, which Beland explained signifies the firefighters who died in the line of duty as a sign of respect. The Firefighter's Pray recitation was then followed by the reading of the 343 firefighter's names and the raising of the American flag.

"Three hundred and forty three firefighters entered the towers and lost their lives," said Beland. "This ceremony is a tradition every year and other ceremonies are going on across the country and across the world. We are here to show that we have kept our promise and we have not forgotten."

Beland said he would also like to honor and acknowledge the civilians who also lost their lives on that day, and tried to aid emergency services in helping victims and fellow coworkers out of the towers.

"They are truly just as brave," said Beland.

He said it is just as important to remember the 184 victims at the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C., after the third plane crash, along with the fourth flight victims who crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

He said heroic efforts have been acknowledged close to home as well and that Lakes Region community leaders have banded together in remembrance of the attacks.

Beland referred to the Lakes Region Respite project years back and said he had the opportunity to meet with and host families at the fire station, whose loved ones died in the towers.

"Many people got to host families and bond in the face of a tragedy," said Beland.

He said many of the firefighter's names read that morning were names connected to families that came to represent the victims years as part of project efforts.

"It's also important to remember the thousands of children who lost their mother or father that day," said Beland. "We will do this year after year, as long as I'm alive."

Gilford Police Officer Kristopher Kloetz concluded the ceremony on behalf of the Gilford Police Department by giving thanks to and honoring the men and women who sacrificed their lives on Sept. 11, a tragedy he said his department will never forget.

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