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NEWS | Sept. 12, 2018

9/11 ceremony commemorates first responders

By Staff Sgt. Lauren Russell Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

Leaders and members of the joint base community commemorated 17 years since the attacks of 9/11 during a memorial ceremony at the Timmermann Center here, Sept. 11, 2018. 

The event paid special tribute to the victims and families of those who perished in the attacks and the first responders who worked around the clock in the days that followed.

“Today we honor the legacy of those who volunteered to protect our nation’s citizens in their time of need,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Neil R. Richardson, Joint Base MDL and 87th Air Base Wing commander. “This is an opportunity to express gratitude to those who ran into, rather than away, from the trouble.”

Richardson recalled where he was when the first plane hit, remembering his wife calling from the next room to watch the screen. It wasn’t until the second plane came into view that he, like so many other Americans, realized what was truly unfolding.

“That was the point when history changed,” said Richardson. “It would define what we as a military would do for the next 17 years.”

During the ceremony, a wreath of yellow roses was laid at the base of the stage while taps echoed through the auditorium. Next, true to firefighter tradition, the ceremonial ringing of the bell sounded twelve times, honoring the 343 firefighters who perished on the day of the attacks, as well as the 203 responders who have since passed from 9/11-related illnesses.

“Today is a day to remember the people that we lost,” said Douglas Hicks, 87th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. “Those people gave up everything.”

Following the ceremony, those in attendance placed American flags around the installation 9/11 memorial outside of Fire Station 4, which includes pieces of twisted steel salvaged from ground zero.

“The men and women who volunteer to take the fight to the cowards who attacked our nation are the reason we hold this ceremony,” said Richardson in conclusion. “They remind us why we train, why we deploy, and why we must never forget.”