ROCK CAVE – The world, as so many Americans had known it, ended at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, when the first commercial airliner crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center Complex.
So, on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan; in Washington, D.C.; and in a remote field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, it only seemed appropriate to Upshur County first responders – an essential duty, even – to stop and remember. To pause and reflect on the nearly 3,000 lives lost on that Tuesday morning in 2001.
That’s why Banks District Volunteer Fire Chief John Roby organized a small gathering Saturday at the Veteran’s Memorial at the Y in Rock Cave, calling on Upshur County firefighters, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers to halt their daily duties and spend a moment of silence together in honor of the more than 400 first responders who lost their lives rushing into the Twin Towers to save as many of their fellow Americans as they could, despite the billowing smoke and obvious danger.
At Saturday’s ceremony, fire trucks from several county departments, including Buckhannon, Banks District and Ellamore, and a handful of first responders and their families encircled the Veteran’s Memorial, hands on one another’s shoulders, as the E911 Upshur County Comm Center paused all radio traffic at 8:45 a.m.
“Today, September 11, we remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost this day in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania,” a telecommunicator said. “Of those lost, 412 were emergency workers who responded to the World Trade Center, including 343 firefighters, 50 law enforcement officers and eight emergency medical technicians. Today we take a pause and a moment of silence for those who paid the ultimate price. We shall never forget.”
In a respectful awe, they stopped to commemorate the sacrifices of emergency rescue workers who didn’t stop to think – those heroes who didn’t hesitate – but instead ran straight into the fire, never knowing if they would re-emerge.
When regular radio traffic resumed, Banks District fire department chaplain Steve Linger, the assistant director of Upshur EMS, led the group in prayer.