By Aaron Blevins, 9/13/2012
Service in Hollywood recognizes FDNY & LAFD
In the Los Angeles Fire Department’s 126-year history, 263 firefighters have died in the line of duty. On Sept. 11, 2001, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 343 firefighters in a single day.
The magnitude of that loss was felt during the LAFD Historical Society’s annual remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in which the LAFD Fallen Firefighters Memorial served as a backdrop and put the national tragedy in perspective.
“They came from all walks of life,” LAFD Historical Society President Jim Finn said.
He said the unprecedented loss of life, whether to emergency personnel or civilians, is still difficult to comprehend. The LAFD, though, will continue to recognize the heroism, bravery and generosity of the firefighters who lost their lives, and the crewmembers and passengers of American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Fight 93, who fought the terrorists and likely saved lives, he said.
“Yes, we remember, and we are moving forward on the lesson we learned,” Finn added. “We all need to think about the meaning of the four words used to describe what these fallen heroes stood for: sacrifice, courage, honor, and service.”
Members of the LAFD Historical Society rang a bell at 6:59 a.m., when the South Tower fell after burning for 56 minutes due to the impact of United Airlines Flight 175, and at 7:28 a.m., when the North Tower collapsed after burning for 102 minutes as a result of the impact of American Airlines Flight 11.
Finn said the LAFD has a close connection with the first responders, victims and families affected by the tragedy in New York. He said FEMA activated the LAFD Urban Search and Rescue Taskforce, which responded to Ground Zero with more than 70 members and “tons” of equipment at 4 a.m. on Sept. 12, 2001. They returned on Sept. 20.
Other LAFD members of the FEMA Incident Support Team followed to become a part of the command organization, Finn said. On Sept. 14 and 15, two waves of the department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team deployed to New York from Los Angeles International Airport, he said.
“These members provided counseling services for the many responders and family member impacted by terror,” Finn added.
He said the LAFD continued to support the FDNY by collecting more than $2 million in donations from the public. Some of that money was raised through selling bracelets and wristbands, which were offered to the attendees on Tuesday.
Finn said thousands of first responders and their families are still dealing with physical and emotional issues 11 years later. However, the country has been resilient, and efforts to rebuild the World Trade Center are underway, he said.
“Those who died that day will only be remembered in our minds and actions, so we say, ‘never forget,’” Finn added.
LAFD Chief Brian Cummings said there would be a lot of words spoken about 9/11 on Tuesday, but urged the audience to remember the emergency personnel and the U.S. soldiers who gave their life as a result of the tragedies.
“As we celebrate this Patriot’s Day today, I think it’s important that we also look at that spirit of volunteerism,” he said. “Let’s promote that spirit of volunteerism, that spirit of compassion, that desire to help your fellow man.”
Lyn Cohen, of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition and the First-In Fire Foundation, read a piece entitled, “Courage Remembered”.
“Whether it is London’s Fire Brigade, Spain’s Los Bomberos, it’s the same person you meet,” she said. “Same eyes, same face, same valued human being. Duty calls, they come — no fear. Courage lives at the firehouse next door.”
The remembrance ceremony concluded with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Firefighter’s Prayer:
When I’m called to duty God
wherever flames may rage
give me strength to save a life
whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person
from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling
and to give the best in me
to guard my neighbor and
protect his property.
And if according to your will
I have to lose my life
bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.