BERLIN — Standing before two steel beams from the World Trade Center, the Kensington Fire Rescue Company gathered to remember the victims of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I often think about the great sacrifices of those first responders and the civilians who helped get people out of the buildings and those who acted in the air,” Kensington Fire Rescue Chief Jeff Pajor said during the Tuesday night ceremony. "This memorial is a tribute to those who were killed...(and) a statement for those who ever stood up for others, for those who do good every day.”
The beams rise out of a pentagon of concrete, representing the 189 killed at the Pentagon, and are surrounded by a lawn for the 44 killed aboard Flight 93, which crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The project was years in the making, and while the lights were first turned on in Dec. 2017, the company waited for the anniversary for the official opening.
"... today we have a beautiful memorial here to honor those that lost their lives 17 years ago and those that continue to suffer the affects of those attacks,” said retired Kensington Chief Mark Lewandowski, who spearheaded the effort to create the monument.
"The Kensington Fire Department, with the assistance of their fellow departments, worked hard to retrieve a piece of history and turn it into a wonderful memorial," said Mayor Mark Kaczynski. "We can never forget this terrible attack on our nation, never forget the victims and never forget the loss and sacrifice of our first responders and our military.”
Chief Pajor gave a timeline of the most significant moments of that day, including Flight 11 crashing into the north tower at 8:46 a.m. and the collapse of the building at 10:28 a.m.
"Do you remember where you were? Do you remember what you felt?” he said.
Firefighter Shawn Drain, the youngest member of the fire company, also spoke. He was 4 on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Among the thousands lost that day, the fire service lost 343 of its brothers,” Drain said. “Brothers who gave their lives in the performance of their duties, not hesitating for a moment to save injured or trapped victims. They have set the bar high. It will be a challenge for us, but we will have the same fighting spirit that they had and never give up. This is how we as brothers, and me as someone who was not old enough to comprehend what had happened that day, will never forget.”