ARLINGTON – Residents gathered at the 9/11 Memorial at Firehouse 46 to remember the innocent victims and public safety personnel who perished in the worst terrorist attack on American soil, with a vow to impart the story with a generation not yet born.
“We have arrived at a time when many of our youth were not alive or were too young to remember the events of 9/11,” said Mayor Barb Tolbert, addressing a crowd of about 80 people at a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary.
“We have a duty to honor the memory of those lost by sharing what we know about them,” she said. “By sharing the story we remind these young people and ourselves that it requires kindness and service to one another to continue loving and growing in a community like Arlington.”
To add perspective, Fire Chief Dave Kraski said the graduating class at Arlington High School this year would have been born in 2001, the year of the deadly attack.
Young people were scattered in the crowd at the ceremony. The firehouse as it does annually welcomed 8th graders earlier in the day from Post Middle School for a visit to the memorial and tour of the station. The mayor herself had a senior Sultan High School job shadow her for the day, who was born 3 months before the 9/11 attack.
Those like Kraski who remember where they were on 9/11 said they have an obligation to educate young people and honor the almost 3,000 people who lost their lives on that day.
“It’s important for us to reflect and remember; in some ways we all lost something that day, but some gave all, and we owe it to them to remember that.” Kraski said.
“We can’t control or prevent incidents like this from occurring, but we can learn from them, unite and stay strong as a country,” he said.
Police Chief Jonathan Ventura said 9/11 carries extra meaning for him and the department.
He and his brother were reservists at the time – Ventura in the Navy, his brother in the Air Force. Both were called back to active duty. Where Ventura was sent to Everett working security, his brother with mortician training shipped immediately to the Pentagon to help with recovery efforts, then moved on to Ground Zero.
Ventura said he felt some guilt about not being deployed to places to be more directly helpful, but his brother said something that meant a lot to him. “He said, ‘I’m over here doing what I need to do, only because you’re there looking over my family.’”
Ventura paid tribute to the more than 400 firefighters and police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“On 9/11, it was the profession of the firefighters, EMTs and officers that took them into the building that day,” he said. “It was just their jobs. They didn’t go in trying to be heroes; they didn’t want to be heroes.”
A commemorative floral wreath and other bundles of flowers were laid at the Arlington Remembers Memorial, at the center of which is a 13-foot, 4,373-pound steel beam, an artifact that once stood as part of the World Trade Center.
Four Arlington firefighters left on Aug. 14, 2011 to New York City to retrieve the beam from JFK Airport Hanger 17.
They arrived back four days with the artifact, which was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, funded by firefighters and the community.
The memorial includes a backdrop silhouette of the New York City skyline and the Twin Towers. Engraved plaques honor those who perished, share the story of the beam’s journey to Arlington, and an accounting of the events that happened on 9/11.
Navy personnel attended the ceremony, the Arlington High School Air Force Junior ROTC presented the colors, and members from the Harvey Creek Band sang the national anthem.
Firefighters also marked the occasion with the ringing of the bells, striking the bell five times in a series of fives in memory of all who died during the attacks.