By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Twenty-one years after the terrorists attacked the United States, the horrors of that day are not forgotten and neither are the sacrifices made by the men and women who put their lives on the line to save others.
Margate City Fire Chief Dan Adams opened and closed the city’s annual 911 service with the words, “Never forget.”
Margate firefighters were among those firefighters from Downbeach communities who traveled to Ground Zero with the hopes of helping to save their comrades in New York City, but when they arrived, it became evident that there were none left to save. Nearly 3,000 people of all persuasions, including 343 firefighters, died that day.
“We thought we had a mission to save lives, but as the minutes and hours passed, we found that would not happen,” Adams said.
Former Fire Chief Anthony Tabasso was so taken by the contributions made by his counterparts that when the city refurbished Fire Station #1, he made sure the department and residents of Margate would never forget. At the top of the stately brick structure are two concrete medallions with the numbers 911 and 343.
Tabasso’s son Rocco, one of his two sons who serve in the Fire Department, rang the “four fives,” a series of tapping of the bells that signify a firefighter has given their life in the performance of duty.
Rabbi Gordon Geller spoke eloquently about the “waiting and explanations” that never came. He urged those present to “celebrate what we learned about ourselves that day” and how “ordinary human beings reacted with extraordinary heroism.”
“The most fundamental qualities of human existence were displayed that day when they chose duty in the face of eminent death,” he said. “They displayed self-sacrifice for the good of strangers…and ordinary people spent their final moments expressing love for their families. Today, as we are reminded of the loss of 3,000 people, the pain is tempered by their exemplary and selfless actions that prove what it means to be human. They exemplified duty, values, self-sacrifice and love.”
Mayor Michael Becker said although we cannot change what happened that fateful day, we should all remember how resilient Americans are.
“Let us never forget,” he said.
Commissioner John Amodeo thanked the members of the Fire Department for keeping the annual memorial service alive “so our children will know what happened. As we reflect on the past, we must remember the service our first responders provided. Thank you to our armed forces, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service workers, who work to protect us every day.”
Assemblywoman Claire Swift said Sept. 11 is a day to demonstrate patriotism.
“It’s a day to honor the American flag and how important it is to be an American and as we move forward show our appreciation for the law and public safety,” she said.
Father Chris Bakey of Holy Trinity Parish prayed for those who were not yet born on Sept. 11, 2001, and said the country should be proud of how well “America cleans up.” Pointing to a business sign across the street that read, “Love where you live,” Bakey said we should allow the love we feel in our own hearts be the catalyst to living in peace.
“Bless us as a country and help us overcome all evil,” he prayed.
Pat Ortlip of Margate attended the event to support her son, Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Armstrong.
“You want to forget and erase it from your mind, but you can’t,” she said.
Katie Lind, who was teaching at the Swift School in Egg Harbor Township remembered what it was like to be with the children as the tragedy unfolded on television.
“Parents were coming in to pick up their children. All the teachers worked to make the children felt safe in school and tried to make it as normal a day as possible. But this is one of the things you will never forget.”
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