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9/11 means many things to different people. I have read, watched, and listened to many accounts of that day. From firefighters to civilians, people from New York and D.C.

Up until 9/11, the one moment that stuck out in my mind when people would say “do you remember what you were doing when…” was the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. That event happened on January 28, 1986, my 7th birthday. I remember it vividly because it was a big deal at my school, St. Columbans in Loveland, Ohio. All of the students were gathered into the classrooms to watch the takeoff on the tv. Unfortunately, 73 seconds after takeoff the Challenger blew up. That moment was the single biggest historical moment etched into my memory…until September 11, 2001.

On that morning, I was working at Station 13. That morning we were doing the normal station duties. Captain Armstrong told us that something happened on the news. The whole company gathered in the day room and watched. We watched for several minutes, as Tower 1 burned, with our jaws dropped.

We watched the whole thing. I don’t think we ran a call the whole day. We watched and we waited. We waited for the answers…the answers to all those questions. Most of those questions still are not answered 5 years later.

Roanoke City and the surrounding localities held a Memorial for 9/11 tonight downtown Roanoke. I am sure it was a fitting tribute to the 5th anniversary. My coworkers and I had to work like so many firefighters across the nation. We remember every day. We will never forget what those 343 Firefighters gave their lives for that day. We never forget what any Public Safety worker gives their life for.

Thank you to all of those who remember the selfless acts of the Firefighters on 9/11 and every day. Thank you for caring. Those men and women gave their lives so that others might live.

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