Topeka and Emporia encourage its communities to never forget 9/11

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:28 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - On this 19th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, local organizations are making sure the sacrifices made that day are never forgotten.

A ceremony in Emporia kicked off with a siren to mark the first airplane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center at 7:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001.

As the noise filled the air, a crowd outside the Emporia law enforcement center thought back to where they were on that day.

Tony Fuller, Battalion Chief of the Emporia Fire Department said, “I was 18 years old when this happened, just getting into the fire service.”

He said he remembers his mother telling him to turn on the TV and when he saw the first tower his first thought was it was a bad accident.

“I was in the state capitol that morning. I was a very young state legislator," said Attorney General, Derek Schmidt.

He continued saying, “I remember the moment the second plane hit, the news reached us, and we quickly understood this was not an accident, it was something more.”

After hearing from several speakers, the group traveled to the Emporia Fire Department where they gathered at the exact time a plane hit the Pentagon and another crashed in Pennsylvania.

Many in the crowd said it’s a day that’s hard to talk about, but important to never forget.

“We have a whole generation of Americans, my kids included, who weren’t alive on 9-11-01," Schmidt said, "They didn’t live it, they didn’t feel it in the moment.”

Clay Childs, a member of American Legion Post 5 in Emporia said, “We have not forgotten the events of 19 years ago. We have not forgotten the first responders, those that sacrificed that day, the loss of lives that day, but also those that are continuing to serve today and are ready to put their lives on the line for us.”

American Legion Post 400 in Topeka is sharing a similar message.

They placed flags outside the Topeka Fire Department headquarters for the 343 firefighters and eight paramedics who died in the attacks.

60 more flags are flying at the Kansas Highway Patrol Troop B headquarters in honor of the fallen law enforcement officers.

Alan Stahl, Public Education Officer with the Topeka Fire Department said, “September 11th is a major day for everybody in the emergency services. It was a time when many men and women in the United States made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the country.”

"They went into the buildings, regardless of their lives, to save other people,” said American Legion Post 400 member Kevin Funk.

Lieutenant Keith Hudson with the Kansas Highway Patrol added, “We had an attack on our country. We always need to remember that and we always need to remember those that responded to the call.”

Both groups said they hope this day brings the country together, just as it did 19 years ago.

Stahl said, “I think in the difficult times we’ve been facing, that we need that reminder that we’re all one United States and that we’re all here for each other no matter what.”

“We’ve been through difficult times before and we’ve come out of them and we unite as Americans and we’ll do so this time too," said Childs.

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