NEW YORK—The International Association of Firefighters conducted a wreath-laying ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center memorial site.
Pipers played a melody neither joyous nor sad over the underlying drone sound. They marched before the main body of representatives and waited for the priest to throw his blessing upon the garlands.
The Epoch Times approached some of the people who were directly affected by the attacks.
Fireman Dave Lohl was present the day of the catastrophe. Ten years later, it was his second time down here.
“It’s tough,” he said, as his throat knotted and eyes started watering.
He wasn’t able to withhold his emotions, “Excuse me,” he said, looking blankly at the distance, as if remembering the events.
“I’ll always remember what happened. It’s a beautiful monument, and I’m very sad.”
He was visiting with his wife and children.
“I lost a lot of co-workers,” he added. “a lot of them.”
“I just come down to see them,” he said.
Lohl thinks that, for younger people who do not necessarily feel the impact of the event, they should read about it and inform themselves.
Eddie Bracken came to the memorial site to remember his sister, who wanted to stay home on Sept. 11 since it was her son’s first day of school, but was denied the day off by her boss.
So, Mary Dwyer went to work on the second tower at AON insurance, doing her job “like an American citizen—the people that the terrorists turned on, and they took upon themselves, on planes, like bombs, put them into the buildings, into the Twin Towers, and killed our families. That’s why I guess we went to war in the Middle East,” Bracken said.
Bracken hopes that President Joe Biden declassifies the papers of the 9/11 terror attacks, but thinks that how the United States “cut and ran” from Afghanistan was a bad move.
“We didn’t need to be there but we were,” he said. “We just had a timetable, and everything, we left there. We should never leave all the weapons there. It’s only going to arm them again, and we’re going to have to go back in again.”
“That’s defeating its whole purpose,” he added.
Bracken was working in the Javits Center on the morning of Sept. 11 when he saw a plane hit the second tower, and he immediately went to look for his sister. He stayed for a couple of days looking for his sister through the rubble.
“It was surreal. People became silent when somebody said that they found something. Everything stopped.”
He eventually realized there was nothing, and left after two days.
Dwyer’s children have grown up a lot now after 20 years, and her daughter had a baby. They hold a memorial every year in Sheepshead Bay.
“Some people weren’t even born and often don’t understand that this should never happen again. We[‘ve got to] learn from the mistakes,” Bracken said.
“Twenty years later, we reflect and see all the things that we try to do for our families because our family members weren’t here, and try to make their lives better. And I hope we did it. I hope we made their lives better as much as we can,” he further said, “as my sister would … if I were in her position.”
Miles Warren and David Goldberg were first responders during the terror attacks, and remember it like it was yesterday.
“I think people take safety for granted.” Goldberg told The Epoch Times, “They don’t fear things when they think nothing is going to happen, [but] I think this could happen at any time, and become a tragedy.”
He said that the memories of the things that happened during that time will be with him for the rest of his life—that is, the people whom he worked with and the people who didn’t come out of it.
“I think what people need to take away from this is don’t take things for granted. Don’t take your safety or your loved ones for granted,” Goldberg added.
Miles Warren asserted that people under the age of 30 do not know what happened, other than what they saw on television.
“Unfortunately some people have forgotten what happened. And this should never, ever be forgotten. And it should never, ever happen again,” Warren said.
The Epoch Times asked them about their memories of the catastrophe.
“I looked around, smoke everywhere,” Warren recalled. “I have no idea where I am,” he told his co-worker. “And then I started crying.”
“I remember everything that day,” said Goldberg. “That day was nothing but dust, fire apparatus everywhere, firefighters, law enforcement officers, it was like a state of shock, but for the first responders over here, we knew what we had to do. No questions whatsoever, while we were here, we knew we had to go to work, and that’s exactly what we did.”
“The fire lasted for weeks, weeks … weeks,” Goldberg said, “the smell didn’t go away.”
His most shocking memory is when he drove by the highway and the towers were not there anymore.
“There were thousands of police officers, firefighters, volunteers. Whenever we thought we heard noise, everything went silent,” Warren said.
“Anytime we thought we found somebody, everyone would stop everything they were doing, and you were able to hear a pin drop. Otherwise, it was just noise and commotion the whole entire time, around the clock. ”
They were here for two weeks and then came back for three more shifts, each lasting a couple of weeks.
A year later, they finally left when everything was cleaned up.