The North End remembers Sept. 11

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

It was a day commemorated in every corner of the country, with flags flying half mast and hands over hearts during moments of silence carved into the busy flow of daily life, a flow that abruptly halted six years ago as Americans stopped and watched in unison an attack few could fathom.

And while for some the day is already embroidered into the folds of history, a collection of snapshots and sound-bites easily recalled but not often remembered, there are a brave few for whom it is more than just a memory. For firefighters and others who serve the cause of citizen safety, it is a daily call, and the events of Sept. 11, 2001 will never be far from the forefront of their minds.

North Kitsap commemorated the day in its own corner of the country as its two fire departments took some time to remember those firefighters and citizens who fell during the attacks. With their own distinctive activities, they honored all lost, and those who still remember.

Sept. 11 at NKF&R

KINGSTON — Each year since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews have hosted a breakfast as a way for community members to come together and draw strength from each other. After six years, it has become a tradition for residents to share a meal before work or school, and remember the event that changed the nation.

About 100 guests crossed the threshold at the headquarters on Miller Bay Road, and this year all donations made were given to the Kingston High School Associated Student Body and Parent Teacher Student Association groups. About $526.75 was collected Tuesday morning.

“Despite the sad day, a good feeling came out of it,” said NKF&R Public Information Officer Michéle Laboda.

As time has passed since the attack on America shocked the world, the memory of the terror and helplessness has faded. Patriot Day has become more about coming together and doing something for the community, said North Kitsap School District Supt. Gene Medina.

“I come here, this is really an outstanding way to bring people together,” he said as he sat and ate with other community members. “It’s really important we remember. It’s important we come together. It’s a critical challenge as a nation, and I don’t think we come together enough. Fourth of July is about fireworks, but this is true remembrance.”

Director of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe development authority Phil Dorn said six years ago, he was on his way to vacation in Oregon. He was on the Interstate 5 highway when he heard the news, and immediately turned around and came home.

“It just didn’t seem purposeful to be on vacation just then,” he said.

Laboda said a portion of the food served at the breakfast was donated by the Clearwater Casino, and the rest was purchased through the Firefighters Fund. All nonperishable food remaining was given to the ShareNet foodbank when the breakfast ended.

“This is why we change a solemn ceremony to a positive community action event,” she said. “We can sustain that longer than we can sustain the solemn remembrance. The solemn remembrance is behind what we are doing today.”

Sept. 11 at PFD

POULSBO — Cars rattled past and construction noises rumbled by a reverent moment of silence Tuesday morning at the Poulsbo Fire Department, proving life since Sept. 11, 2001 has been able to move forward. But the sounds were no distraction to a group of nearly 20 firefighters and members of the department as they gathered to remember and respect those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day.

PFD Deputy Chief Tom O’Donohue spoke of the “Crash heard around the world” and its impact on the nation. America will always remember the heroes lost, as they are gone but not forgotten, he said.

Following a moment of silence, PFD chaplain Ryan Mayfield offered a prayer and Val Martinson presented the department with a quilt she began creating Sept. 11, 2006. She spoke of teaching the morning of the attacks, and the impression it left on her.

“It just seemed like an appropriate day,” she said of the offering she gave on behalf of the Martinson family.

PFD public information officer Jody Matson said the brief but impacting ceremony is something the department does each Patriot Day, and it serves as a reminder to honor the bravery of emergency workers of all kinds, not just firefighters.

“It’s just a nice way to not forget,” she said.

O’Donohue, who visited fire departments in New York City just two weeks before 9/11, said that day became one of a handful of defining moments for the country, and he hopes Americans do not become complacent as time passes.

“People are forgetting,” he said. “Maybe we’re healing. I would like to think we wouldn’t forget the lessons learned.”

While time heals all wounds, patriotism should not be left aside only to be touted when tragedy befalls, he said.

“I think that the patriotism swelled in the country. Instead of us getting afraid as a nation we stood up and said we’re one,” he said. “I’d hate to see those feelings fade away.”

As a citizen he recognizes the day’s importance, but as a firefighter he knows the dangers faced Sept. 11 are part of the job description some take on each day.

“I do know that tragedy strikes firefighters far too often,” he said. “You look around at the firefighters in our country and that’s exactly what you see, is people who put their lives on the line for others.”

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