It has been 18 years since Sept. 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people died and countless lives were changed forever.
The Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services Honour Guard held its annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony on Wednesday morning, to pay respects to the firefighters who lost their lives that day, trying to save others.
The day commenced with a solemn parade of uniformed personnel marching from the Lethbridge Fire Department Headquarters to Southminster United Church.
The parade, led by the Lethbridge Fire Department Honour Guard and the Lethbridge Firefighter’s Pipes and Drums, was held to pay respects to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11, and to honour the local men and women who have lost their lives in the name of public service.
“I was on duty that day actually and I remember just standing around the TV, just awestruck,” said Jim Anderson, the Lethbridge Fire Honour Guard Commander.
“Just speechless at what was happening and thinking of all the firefighters that were losing their lives that day.”
The day was marked with grief for the loss of members in a tight-knit community.
In the years since the terror attacks, the focus has shifted to protecting first responders and prioritizing safety precautions on duty.
“In those days, they didn’t have their individual masks and equipment,” said Bev Kurtz, the widow of the former Lethbridge fire inspector.
“So it never fit properly.”
Legislation to provide support for firefighters with lung problems from work has been a major milestone for first response teams.
As well, the conversation has grown around trauma support for those men and women as mental health concerns are brought to the forefront.
Anderson said the solidarity our first responders share with those in the U.S. is something they hold with them today and every day.