Rochester Fire Department to pay tribute on 20th anniversary of 9/11

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 8, 2021

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ROCHESTER — It’s been 20 years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Rochester Fire Department is doing its part to make sure we never forget.

The community is invited to pay tribute to first responders — and others who risked their lives to keep others safe during 9/11 — at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Rochester Fire Station, 277 E. Second St.

“Twenty years is a long time, and so often, with time, we tend to forget about the ultimate sacrifice that the emergency responders made on that day to save lives and preserve lives,” said Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik. “We should never forget that sacrifice that those men and women made on that day.”

Over 2,900 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. At the World Trade Center, approximately 2,763 died after the two planes crashed into the twin towers — including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers. At the Pentagon, 189 people were killed and approximately 44 people died when American Airlines Flight 93 crash-landed in Pennsylvania.

Duane Dombrowski, who organizes the group “Over 30 and Lovin’ It” on, said the group supplied the Fire Department with over 2,900 flags to represent the lives of those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Firefighters will place 343 yard flags at the station to represent the fallen firefighters and paramedics from the terrorist attacks.

“The right thing to do is commemorate their bravery and the actions they took, and to never forget,” Cieslik said.

The remaining flags — representing the civilians who lost their lives in 9/11 — will be placed across the street by over 30 volunteers from the group.

Dombrowski said he got the idea for the 9/11 flags after witnessing a 2016 flag display at Boston Common park in downtown Boston.

“Every year for Memorial Day they plant 37,000 flags that represent a Massachusetts resident that lost their life in a war since the American Revolutionary War. This was my inspiration,” he said.

For the first time, the community will get to see a piece of steel from one of the towers — which was delivered to the fire station a few weeks ago — during the event.

The piece of the remaining structure from the North Tower was donated to Rita Duff, a member of the Rochester Fire Department. Duff has a great-grandfather who served as a division chief with New York City Fire Department in 1899, another who served as a New York Police Department officer, and first cousins who served on 9/11 with the NYPD. She received the gift after sharing her family’s long history of service with a firefighter from the FDNY during training in New York.

The ceremony will also include the dedication of new granite monuments at the fire station’s Heroes Point, at the corner of Second and Third streets, directly next to the fire station. The new monuments honor the five military branches.

“We will have a little bit of a dedication of those monuments on 9/11, because not only did the terrorists attack the twin towers, but it was our military who kept us safe from further terrorist attacks,” Cieslik added. “We thought it was very important to call that out.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (248) 651-4470.