First responders gather at the Peace Arch to remember 9/11’s fallen

New York City tragedy ‘brought out the best in human spirit’

First responders from both sides of the border gathered this morning at Peace Arch Park to honour those who gave their lives to help others during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and those who, 16 years later, continue to serve and protect, both in their own backyard, and around the world.

Police, firefighters, paramedics, politicians and civilians converged on the international border between South Surrey, B.C. and Blaine, Wash., to remember a tragedy that both devastated and strengthened.

“On Sept. 11, my department lost 23 members. Matt’s lost 343,” New York Police Department Sgt. Kevin Lynch told the crowd, referring also to the enormous impact the attacks – which killed nearly 3,000 that day – had on the city’s fire department, which was represented Monday by Matthew Zimpfer.

“Think about those numbers for a minute, because a number’s just a number until you think about the fact that each one of those people had a family that they cared about, had people they loved and people who loved them.

“But they did what first responders always do, and that’s run to whoever needs help.”

One after another, speakers stood, acknowledging the “heartbreaking and devastating acts of violence” of that day, but returning always to give thanks and acknowledge the partnerships and resolve that strengthened in the wake of the tragedy.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Blaine area port Director Kenneth Williams posed, and answered, the question, “are we truly safer?”

“I can stand here with confidence and say yes,” Williams said, citing improvements in security measures in the years since 9/11, and ones to come.

“For those who wish to do us harm, we are sending a clear message.”

Vancouver Police Department Supt. Mike Porteous said that while the border may divide the U.S. and Canada, “we are human beings and fellow first responders, brothers and sisters.”

“Together we stand in the face of tragedy, remembering our fallen heroes and carrying on in their names. We will remember,” Porteous said.

South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts, representing Canada in the ceremony, echoed the call to “always remember” those who died.

U.S. Consul General Katherine Dhanani said the day was to remember “those brave men and women who gave everything for strangers they never knew simply because it was in them to respond as heroes.”

Lynch told the crowd that he doesn’t feel like a hero for his actions on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I feel like a person who did my job, and I think that’s what every first responder would mention when asked why they do it,” he said.

“It was a horrible day for us, as a city, as a nation and as a world, but in the days, and the weeks, months and the years that have followed, it’s brought out the best in the human spirit.”

 

The U.S. colour guard and other first responders at Peace Arch Park Monday, where a memorial was held to honour those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

Day of Remembrance honours road traffic victims

People killed or seriously injured on Canadian roads remembered Sunday in Kelowna

Community Leader Awards: Coach Dean Kennedy

Kelowna Capital News Leader of the Year series on those that give back to the community

Snowfall warning between Merritt and Hope

As much as 20 centimteres of the white stuff is expected along a stretch of the Coquhialla

Double book launch in Kelowna

Authors Sharon Thesen and Erin Moure read from their new works Thursday at library

Westbank Opry announces Christmas show

West Kelowna music fans are encouraged to bring a food donation to help the less fortunate

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

Making a difference at Okanagan Boys and Girls Club

Kelowna company president rolls up sleeves with local organization

Letter: Is it time to privative ICBC and BC Hydro?

West Kelowna letter-writer says it’s time the government gives up control of the corporations

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Most Read