Always remember: Firefighters’ ceremony honors first responders, Sept. 11 victims

9/11 remembrance ceremony carried out Saturday on Sauk Valley Community College grounds

Retired Dixon Fire Deputy Chief Mark Callison, right, directs the combined Color Guard of the American Legion, VFW and Blackhawk Firefighters Association during the Presentation of Colors on Saturday at Sauk Valley Community College.

DIXON - Leading up to the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a remembrance ceremony for first responders and that day’s victims took place Saturday on the grounds of Sauk Valley Community College.

The ceremony was hosted by the Blackhawk Firefighters Association and featured readings by local fire officials, a bell-ringing ceremony and speeches from local dignitaries honoring first responders and memorializing those who died in the terrorist attacks on the twin towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93.

Amboy Fire Chief Jeff Bryant introduced the event’s speakers, which included Dixon Mayor Glen Hughes, Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss, Sauk Valley Community College Vice President of Academics and Student Services Jon Mandrill, Kyle Ferrebee of the Young America’s Foundation and Illinois State Rep. Brad Fritts, R-Dixon.

Local firefighters also read passages about the events of Sept. 11.

Dixon Fire Chief Ryan Buskohl’s reading was titled “Never Forgetting is Never Forgetting.”

“Always remember ... You’re going to see the words ‘never forget’ today. A lot. And it bothers me,” he read. “It’s a fact of life that we can’t forget what happened. I hate the words never forget. It’s a double negative that does no one any good. I personally choose to ‘always remember.’ Always remember the loss of innocent life, and the bravest act mankind can embark on, giving their life so that another may live. It was done over and over and over that day. Some made the ultimate sacrifice, others got lucky and survived.

“September 11th was the worst day we have ever experienced as a society. However, it’s also the brightest, most incredible example there is of our ability to do good and care for others. And love.

“We all remember where we were. Who we talked to. What we did. The emptiness we felt. The tears we shed. And the tears we shared. Those are things our brains will never let us forget, so let’s stop saying it. You can’t choose to forget. But always remembering is a choice. Remember love. Remember sacrifice. Remember we are one people united. Remember that hate can’t win when love is present. Remember that when others aim to divide us, our best option is to love them back.

“... You can’t choose to forget, but always remembering is a choice you can make. From all the bad that came from 9/11, it also exposed the amount of good Americans are capable of and the heroism we possess, and that’s worth remembering, always.”

Sublette Assistant Fire Chief Nick Dinges read “The Night Before.”

“… 22 years (Sept. 10) ago, 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights; 2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning – 343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift,” he read.

“Sixty police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol. Eight paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift. None of them saw past 10 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001.

“In one single moment, life may never be the same. As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter and never take one second of your life for granted.”

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.