The Military Museums in Calgary commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Saturday.
The ceremony was held in front of a large twisted steel column from the collapsed World Trade Centre towers.
It was gifted to Calgary to honour the victims of 9/11: 2,977 people died.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, 24 Canadians died on 9/11 and 158 Canadian soldiers died serving in Afghanistan.
“It’s a difficult day. It’s 20 years ago, and it seems like it’s yesterday in some ways. Events of this kind of impact just stay with you forever, and personal connections I have with people connected to 9/11 who I stay in touch with and think of very much every year, reach out to every year, just really amplify that feeling,” said Calgary Fire Department Chief Steve Dongworth.
“But, of course, we are a very strong family in the fire service, both in the Calgary Fire Department but also across borders, and really, this is about people who were doing their job, came to work that morning expecting to go home after their shift and not doing so because of something terrible that happened, which resulted in them making the ultimate sacrifice.”
It was the greatest loss of firefighters that Dongworth said he is aware of in modern history; 343 firefighters died.
“It touches all of us,” he said.
“With it being 20 years ago, we have firefighters now who are young folks who perhaps don’t even have a perspective of 9/11. They would have been very young at the time of 9/11, so I think it’s about how do you sustain that memory?”
Holly Waeger Monster, U.S. consul general in Calgary, could see and smell the smoke from the Pentagon that day.
“You could hear the plane hit the Pentagon. Actually, the louder sound was when the wall of the Pentagon collapsed,” she explained.
Waeger Monster is grateful for our country’s support.
“Canada has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States, both on 9/11 and in the years that followed,” she said.
“I’m really thankful for Canada’s efforts to support democracy and freedom around the world over the last 20 years.”
It’s important to honour the historic level of friendship between Canada and the U.S., she said.
“I think what’s most important to remember is what it brought out in our allies and friends around the world, and I think, particularly being in Canada, it’s most important to remember the heroic acts of all of the first responders and the people who contributed to saving lives that day,” Waeger Monster said.
“Canadians really just opened their lives and their arms to the world. Over 200 airplanes that were in the air landed in Canada because they couldn’t enter the United States. People in Canada opened up their homes to welcome those passengers where there weren’t hotels available.”
David Peabody, director of the Military Museums and a veteran who served in Afghanistan from May 2011 to March 2012, said hosting Saturday’s event was an honour.
“If we don’t remember the past, we’re doomed to repeat it, and if we can’t take an event like 9/11 and look at what happened and the impact of that, then we’ll forget and something like that may happen again,” he said.
“So it’s important for people to really keep touch with the human consequence and the tragedy of these things that happen.”
Calgary is scheduled to celebrate the lives of firefighters lost in the line of duty on Sept. 14.
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