NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Across Western New York, people gathered Monday to remember the thousands of people killed in the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
Community members gathered with firefighters and police at Memorial Park in Niagara Falls just before 10 a.m. Monday to honor the fallen, especially the police officers and firefighters who lost their lives while trying to save others.
At 9:59 a.m. a call went over the emergency crews’ radios, marking the moment the South Tower fell. “Sixteen years ago at this very moment brother firefighters of Fire Department of New York City, members of the Police Department of New York City and Port Authority Police of New York City valiantly gave their lives while performing their duties in the South Tower of the World Trade Center,” the voice on the radio said. “The City of Niagara Falls Fire Department joins with firefighters and police officers across the world in remembering the heroic sacrifice made by those 343 firefighters and 60 police officers 16 years ago today.”
Those who gathered at Memorial Park then stood shoulder to shoulder for a full moment of silence to pay tribute to the victims, each person deep in their own thoughts about that September morning 16 years ago.
“For those of us in service, most of us can remember where we were on that day and what we were thinking and the feeling of helplessness that we weren’t there to help,” said Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto.
One Niagara Falls firefighter was there.
Captain John Asklar arrived in New York City for training with the NYFD on September 10, 2001. He joined New York firefighters on September 11th to answer the call for help.
“The towers fell while we were en route to there so we set up a triage station, but there was really no survivors that came out,” Captain Asklar recalled. “And then the second and third day we did rescue and recovery, fire suppression, and stuff like that.”
Sixteen years later, Captain Asklar says he prepared to mark the anniversary of that day by looking through his photos, but the memories are starting to fade “which I think is good for your mental health, you know,” he told New 4.
“You do remember,” he added.
Everyone who attended Monday morning’s somber ceremony will remember those who died when the towers fell. “Three hundred forty-three New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty,” said Niagara Falls Fire Chief Thomas Colangelo.
Those first responders ran toward danger and answered the call for help, as first responders do around the country every single day.
Even during Monday morning’s ceremony, a call came in to the fire department, and several on duty members rushed off to answer it, knowing their lives could be put in danger.
“You’re always getting into a situation where you don’t what you’re going to get into until you’re there sometimes,” Chief Colangelo said. “You have an idea but you don’t know what the consequences could be and that’s what makes it such a dangerous job.”
“Each and every day, firefighters and police officers put themselves in that danger,” Superintendent DalPorto added, “whether it’s going to a working fire or a dangerous call for the police department, these first responders are putting their lives on the line every day to help their communities, and I think we should remember that not only on 9/11, but every single day of the week.”