By Matt de Simone
Buchanan prepares to remember the fallen this weekend.
The Town of Buchanan hosts the fourth annual 9-11 Memorial Walk at Buchanan Town Park Saturday at 8 a.m.
Buchanan volunteer firefighter Bill Price and his non-profit organization, Sirens and Salutes, produce the fourth annual walk honoring the men and women who gave their lives in service during the tragic morning of September 11, 2001.
Price spent years honoring those individuals on September 11 annually before moving to Buchanan from participating in stair climbs and walking along the beach in Virginia Beach over the last 20 years. During his first year living in Buchanan, Price made plans to walk Main Street in recognition of 9-11. Other members of the Buchanan Fire Department caught wind that Price wanted to do something and asked to join him. From there, the annual event grew larger and larger.
“It took off from there,” Price recalled during a recent interview. “People heard about it, joined up, and [we walked on] Main Street for the first two years.”
The event moved from Main Street to Buchanan’s Town Park last year. Price’s godfather, retired New York City firefighter Al Weber, spoke during the memorial last year.
Last year, volunteers in the community decorated the park with American flags, which lined the gravel path encircling the activity area. Botetourt County Fire & EMS members were on hand as well, with flags waving high about each department’s respective truck.
Memories of that day naturally flood back to Price and Weber this time of year. The morning of September 11, 2001, forever remains an unforgettable moment in American history for many, especially those who work in volunteer and career emergency rescue services.
Price remembers that morning well. “I was living in Maine, working at a fire department on a naval base. [The department] had sent me to an aircraft firefighting school in Texas, where I was that day. I was learning how to put out fires on aircraft and how to rescue people from those aircraft on fire, ironically enough. We were outside doing mockups, taking turns as teams dragged out dummies [from an aircraft fire].
“[People in charge of the training] came outside and told us that we needed to stop and go back inside [the fire training facility]. No one had any idea of what was going on. By the time we got back to our classrooms, the towers had fallen when they had rolled in the televisions. Sitting in class, I remember the base commanding officer and chaplain coming into classrooms, asking if anyone had relatives in the NYFD or NYPD. They pulled anyone training with relatives [potentially involved in the rescue efforts].”
Price said he soon got a hold of Al’s wife, Rosanne, once he could to make sure Al was okay.
Al was in Manhattan that morning. He was in his 16th year of firefighting service at the time.
“You got to go do your job,” Al said. “We fought our way to get close enough to throw water [on the wreckage]. We were upwind. I didn’t really see a lot past my nose for 24 hours. We were relieved 24 hours later, got back to the firehouse, and found out I was still on duty. So, I turned around, got on a ferry, and went right back.”
It took three days to put out the fires around the World Trade Center Plaza, and firefighters in New York continued to extinguish the flames within the rubble for the next three months. The 9-11 Memorial Walk recognizes the loss of those 343 FDNY firefighters who sacrificed their lives on that tragic morning.
This year’s memorial will feature tags of the fallen that participants can pick up and take with them during the walk. Botetourt Fire & EMS Chief Jason Ferguson, Price, and Buchanan Mayor Craig Bryant will speak before the walk. Following the walk, they will release 21 doves in honor of the 21st anniversary of the tragedy. At noon, a free showing of the film “Flight 93” will air at the Buchanan Theatre. On Sunday, at 12:30 p.m., the churches on Main Street will ring their bells for one minute.
Earlier this year, the Town of Buchanan proclaimed that an annual 9-11 Memorial Walk would take place in Buchanan, honoring the fallen.
“It’s a community-supported and a town-supported event,” Bryant said in a recent interview. “With it being a part of the town event schedule, it allowed [Sirens & Salutes] to know they can plan on their event being a part of the town’s schedule of events every year. The events of 9-11 touched everybody in Buchanan. It gives us a chance for reflection. Everyone’s really close to emergency services in the community. It gives the town a sense of being connected to those events.”