BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) People in South Burlington gathered on Wednesday to honor the 2,997 American lives lost in a series of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The South Burlington Fire Department hosted the memorial ceremony at Overlook Park on the 18th anniversary of the attacks to honor the victims.
To commence the event, firefighters hoisted the American flag over the park. Fire officials led the crowd in prayer as they remembered the people who died in the callous and calculated attack on Washington, D.C., and New York City. They recalled the moment they turned on the television and saw the Twin Towers billowing with smoke and fire and the Pentagon partially collapsed.
“It was really hard to imagine what I was seeing, to make sense of what that was,” said Janet Francis of Hinesburg. “It was a little disbelief.”
They also remembered those aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who revolted against the four hijackers and prevented the fourth plane from crashing into its intended target, the U.S. Capitol.
“That was al Qaeda’s first taste of America resolve,” said South Burlington Fire Chief Terry Francis.
The group also took a moment of silence for the hundreds of first responders who ran into the burning buildings to save lives knowing they would lose theirs.
“It is a job. They do get paid. But it is a lifestyle. It is a choice that they willingly make,” said Janet Francis.
About a dozen of the 343 firefighters who died that day were friends with Chief Francis. He told WCAX News he was very angry when he found out they were killed. He says as painful as it may be, Americans have to keep talking about Sept. 11, teach the future generations and remind ourselves of the heartache so that we as a nation may never experience that again.
“I’m obligated to learn the lessons from the 343 firefighters that were killed, the 76 police officers that were killed and the EMTs, and say ‘never again.’ Never again,” said Francis.
Flags all across Vermont and the United States flew at half-staff on Wednesday in remembrance of the victims.
The South Burlington Fire Department has been hosting the 9/11 memorial ceremony every year since the attacks.