ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Nine years ago Saturday, hundreds of firefighter sacrificed their lives during the 9/11 terror attacks. Alaskans gathered Saturday to pay their respects, not only for those who died in 2001 but also for Alaska's fallen firefighters.
Hundreds came together at the site of the new Alaska Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Downtown Anchorage. It was a day of reflection, and a symbol of the bravery and courage of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
For many, 9/11 is a day they will always remember: a reminder of both those whose lives were lost and those who protect America every day.
“It seemed like it just happened yesterday, you know -- we know exactly what we were doing that day,” said Erin Brackett, the wife of a firefighter.
“The loss and the sacrifice that firefighters make is tremendous and their families,” said Jeanne Reilly, who attended the dedication.
“We come here today to honor all the firefighters who didn’t go home that day,” said Anchorage Fire Department Chief Mark Hall.
Three hundred and forty-three firefighters lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 at Ground Zero in New York City.
“It is a sacred event that shapes us and defines us every single day,” said Doug Schrage, a past president of the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association.
It’s a tragedy that was felt across the Last Frontier, and one that brings Alaskans together to also honor this state’s fallen firefighters -- one by one.
“While most Americans probably never forget, for firefighters it means so much more,” Schrage said.
It's a site dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives.
“We do this because we're here to protect the general population,” said AFD Senior Capt. Clinton Powell.
But it’s also a reminder of history to be carried on.
“Even though he's only 3, it's important for him to see what happened on Sept. 11 -- he doesn’t understand now, but someday he will,” said Eric Tuott, who attended Saturday’s dedication with his son.
The memorial is meant to keep the memories of these brave heroes alive, for future generations to honor and never forget.
Work at the site is still in progress. Bricks will be laid on the ground, and there will also be engraved bricks for sale as a fundraiser for the project.
Officials hope the memorial will be complete in a few more weeks.
Contact Christine Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org