By Matt de Simone
Last Wednesday morning at the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department, members of the Botetourt County community gathered with the local volunteers to remember the fallen firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who gave their lives while saving lives during the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Once those in attendance gathered inside the fire station, firefighter Bill Price took a moment to recall the events of 9/11 including the first casualty that occurred aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Fire Chaplain Ray Sloan then told a story about Facebook conversations he had with a firefighter in Germany who was sympathetic toward those who lost their lives during the attack on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Following the opening remarks and a moment of silence, Buchanan’s inaugural 9/11 Memorial Walk began. Memorial badges for the fallen firefighters and police officers were available for those in attendance to wear during the walk along Main Street in honor of their sacrifices. Each badge had the individual’s name and department, and the words “NEVER FORGET” printed at the bottom of the frame in bold red ink.
The walk went out of the firehouse, down Main Street to the bridge crossing the James River. Around 8:46 a.m., the volunteer firefighters led the community down the sunny sidewalk toward the river. The walk was scheduled in-time with the events that occurred almost 20 years ago.
Price led the crowd in moments of silence to remember the lives lost at specific moments throughout the morning of 9/11 with the walk concluding at 10:28 a.m.— when the North Tower collapsed. The community and volunteers gathered at the fire department’s doorsteps in front of the department’s 9/11 memorial. Price once again recognized the fallen firefighters and police officers.
The memorial closed with final remarks from Chaplain Sloan. He looked down at the badges he had clasped to his fire suit and shared thoughts about the families of all the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
“What we did today— the sweat, water on our heads— it’s nothing compared to how these families have suffered,” Sloan said to the crowd. “Let’s go home and hug our kids. Think about what we have.”