Los Angeles held its own remembrance ceremonies to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In Hollywood, a ceremony commenced at 0700 hours at the LAFD Museum and Fallen Firefighter Memorial. In the evening, a similar ceremony was held at Fire Station 88. A 23-ton nearly 22-foot tall steel column, once part of the lobby structure from the World Trade Center in New York, served as a fitting backdrop for the National Day of Service and Remembrance ceremony held at the Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center.
A retired New York City Fire Department lieutenant who lost his son in the tragedy gave the keynote address at FHMTC.
“Thirteen years ago, I lost my son, firefighter Gary Geidel, along with 11 other members of Rescue Company 1,” Lt. Paul Geidel said. “A total of 343 firefighters were lost that day, along with thousands of innocent people. I spent eight and a half months digging at Ground Zero, first on the pile, and then in the pit.”
The remains of his son were never recovered.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck also spoke at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Chief Terrazas said, “Thirteen years after our nation was attacked, the events of September 11, 2001, may be fading in the minds of many Americans. But for those of us who spend our lives in the service of others; be it in the fire service, law enforcement, or the military, the memories of the terrorist attacks that took so many lives remain fresh.
“There is a distinct feeling you get as a firefighter just a few times in your career. It’s the feeling of arriving at the scene of an incident and your sixth sense telling you ‘this one is going to be dangerous and you might not make it home.’ I have no doubt the men and women who responded to the World Trade Center that day had that same feeling as they got off their rigs and out of their patrol cars. They had that feeling and they went ahead anyway; many of them to a certain death.
“On a day we gather to remember we should also pledge to serve in whatever meaningful way we can. For in service we can find resiliency. The section of the fallen World Trade Center that stands here in memory and tribute of that horrible day is also a symbol of resiliency. It is a reminder that Americans will remember, rebuild, and continue to serve their country in times of need and in times of crisis.
“The LAFD will also continue to serve; to be there whenever Angelenos call us; and to never forget the ultimate sacrifices that were made on September 11, 2001.”
by Brian Humphrey, PSO
photos by Mike Meadows and Mark Peters