By Emily Williams
Officials and residents gathered in front of Mountain Brook Fire Station 1 on the morning of Sept. 11 to remember the first responders, U.S. military and civilians lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After a wreath was laid on the portion of a beam from the World Trade Center that is displayed on the station’s lawn, a bell was rung for the lives lost: 60 members of the New York City and Port Authority Police Departments and 343 firefighters; 6,700 members of the armed forces lost at the Pentagon and in the war on terror; and 2,332 civilians lost in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and on each of the planes involved in the attacks.
“Today we honor and remember our first responders … who never take a break,” Homewood Mayor Scott MacBrayer said. “While you are sleeping at night, they are awake, ready to take action.”
Mountain Brook hosted this year’s annual 9/11 Patriot Day remembrance ceremony, conducted in conjunction with Homewood and Vestavia Hills. The event was coordinated by Mountain Brook’s police and fire departments with each of the participating city’s mayors providing words of recognition.
Keynote speaker Jack Natter, Hoover resident and former rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, recounted his memory of the terrorist attacks. With three daughters serving in the armed forces, as well as a brother serving as a commanding officer on a naval ship near New York City, Natter recalled the sense of panic felt by himself and his family. One of his close friends was aboard American Airlines Flight 77 with his wife, on their way to California when it was hijacked.
“It was an event that teaches you how fragile life really is,” Natter said.
The sense of panic did not end that day or the following week, but remained as casualties continued to increase through the war on terror.
“I urge you to tell your children, tell your grandchildren, tell your great grandchildren about this day,” Natter said, pointing out that his nephew was in the crowd and had brought his son.
He concluded by saying that the purpose of sharing stories about the 9/11 attacks is not only to pay homage to the victims, but to teach younger generations so that, perhaps, history will not repeat itself.