Hours before Sept. 11 chimed on clocks throughout Langley, a platoon of Township firefighters and 400-plus special guest at the fourth annual Mayor’s Charitable Gala paid tribute to those who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks back in 2001.
That was 21 years ago, but the day was still remembered vividly by many in the banquet held at Langley Events Centre on Saturday, especially several of the older firefighters and gala supporters who remembered watching news coverage of the attacks and the loss of so many innocent lives in four coordinated terrorist attacks carried out in the U.S.
Subsequently, hundreds of firefighters went in to help save people, and they too never returned.
All those lost were remembered at the gala, one day ahead of not only the 9/11 anniversary but the Firefighters’ National Memorial Day – which expands on that loss and remembers all the fallen heroes across this country.
“[The gala is] a nice night of music, food, fellowship, testimony, and tradition,” said Township of Langley Firefighters IAFF president Jordan Sparrow, but it was also an important time of remembrance.
Part of the evening’s ceremonies included an explanation from Sgt. Major Jason Linn about the importance of tradition in the fire service. He offered a brief a history lesson about the firefighter’s code of conduct (duty, honour, and sacrifice) and the significance of the fire bell and how it is rung three times to signify “the last alarm.”
He also spoke about 9/11.
“It was a beautiful September morning,” Linn recounted, getting obviously choked up during his presentation. He went on to recall the horrors that came that day, when two planes flew into the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York City, and the third plane into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the American military) in Arlington, Va.
“Three hundred and forty three of my brothers were killed. They died not in vain. They died in honour. I made a promise to my God a long time ago that I would never forget. I hope you don’t forget either,” he said, his brief but poignant speech followed by the ringing of their fire bell three times, a moment of silence, and the playing of Amazing Grace by the Surrey Firefighters Pipe & Drum Band.
On Sunday, Premier John Horgan also made a statement, too.
“Firefighters are not only heroes serving their community, but also husbands, wives, parents, siblings, friends and neighbours, who run toward danger while we seek safety. The physical and mental costs of this bravery are known all too well by firefighters and their loved ones. We owe them our gratitude and so much more,” said Horgan.
Stay tuned for further coverage from the Mayor’s Charitable Gala, including how much was raised by the Township of Langley Firefighters’ Charitable Society for its own community initiatives such as the annual snack program for schools and the monies raised for Foundry Langley.
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