September 11: Never forget
Local firefighters, other groups plan remembrance event
By Eileen Persike
No sirens, no air horns, no decorations.
At 9:59 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, a silent procession of Rhinelander area fire department vehicles and personnel, EMS and law enforcement will begin in effort to pay tribute to the events that took place 20 years ago in New York City.
“We don’t want it to be like the Fourth of July parade,” said Rev. Norman Peterson, Rhinelander Fire Department Chaplain and one of the event organizers. “We want it to be appropriate for the event, more of a memorial.”
The procession will begin at the Trig’s parking lot at the same time the first World Trade Center tower collapsed Sept. 11, 2001. It will travel north on Brown Street to Davenport Street, then east to the Oneida County Courthouse where a short program will be held. Organizers of the event are asking that the firefighters attend, and instead of riding in the trucks, to walk along side one another.
The community is invited to line the street, from King to Davenport, and join in as the procession passes by.
“People coming out of the towers were mixed right in with the firefighters,” Peterson said. “Civilians were part of the tragedy.”
The now-retired pastor served Immanuel Church in Rhinelander for 33 years and is a volunteer firefighter for Pine Lake. Twenty years ago he would regularly stop by the fire station and have coffee with the guys. That’s how he became the department chaplain.
“After the original 9/11, every paid department in the United States was instructed that they should have a chaplain, either from within or from without,” Peterson recalled. “The guys from Rhinelander said, you know, you’ve been doing this for us for years.”
Everyone has a story, an image in mind that will never be forgotten from that day. As a firefighter and a pastor, Peterson said he could relate to what he was watching on television.
“For me, personally, it was a very emotional day to see these people – firefighters – to watch them walking in, and to know that they chaplain on scene died on the scene… It was a double hit for me,” he said. “And how to make sense of it; the change in the world went from a definable enemy to something unexpected.”
The word remember means to “think of again,” or “put back together” in the mind. Peterson said the intent of the remembrance on Sept. 11 is to put the all the pieces of that meaningful day together, non-politically, and appropriately honor those who died.
“Let’s piece this together because there were civilians involved, there were civilians who died; there were firefighters involved and firefighters who died,” Peterson said. “We’re trying to acknowledge all of that. Police have been invited and we’ve invited the ambulance because there were EMS people there as well.”
The program at the courthouse will be brief, with a couple of speakers, a bagpipe player, a bell ceremony and a flyover by an EMS helicopter.
Calvary Baptist Church is also hosting a remembrance event Saturday, Sept. 11. The community is invited to gather at 9:11 a.m. at Pioneer Park, site 3 for prayer and remembrance. The event will be held rain or shine and attendees may want to bring a chair. For more information, call 715-362-4792 or visit explorecalvary.com.