Members of the Kelowna Fire Department and the Kelowna RCMP march in a ceremony in the city marking the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2016. (File photo)

Kelowna firefighters climb 110 storeys to honour 9-11 victims

New memorial in New York honours victims from evolving aftermath of 9-11

  • Sep. 11, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Kelowna firefighters will take to the 18-storey Landmark 6 building today (Wednesday) to pay homage to the 343 members of the New York Fire Department who lost their lives during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Hosted by the Kelowna Professional Firefighters Charitable Society, members will make a minimum donation of $20 to Wounded Warriors Canada, dress in their full equipment and climbed 110 storeys – the height of the former World Trade Center towers.

Elsewhere in the city, firefighters will gather at their respective fire halls for a moment of silence at about 10 a.m., and lower their flags to half staff.

Meanwhile, in New York, the names of nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 victims will be read aloud at the World Trade Center in New York. A new addition: a half-dozen stones will quietly salute an untold number of people who aren’t on the list.

As dozens of ceremonies take place across B.C. to honour the lives lost, and lives impacted, by the tragedy endured across the border, those at ground zero will commemorate the heroes and victims with an unusual addition that reflects the evolving aftermath of 9-11, which still is ongoing to this day.

Newly installed granite slabs recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terrorist attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage.

Subtle and sculptural, the memorial glade features the six stone pieces inlaid with steel salvaged from the World Trade Centre. They jut from the ground along a tree-lined pathway. Unlike the plaza’s massive waterfall pools memorializing the people killed on 9-11, the boulders are not inscribed with the names of those they honour. There is no finite list, at least not yet.

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Instead, nearby signs dedicate the glade “to those whose actions in our time of need led to their injury, sickness, and death,” including first responders, recovery workers, survivors and community members at the attack sites at the trade centre, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The collapse of the World Trade Centre’s twin towers produced thick dust clouds, and fires burned for months in the rubble. Many rescue and recovery workers later developed respiratory and digestive system ailments, believed to be linked to inhaled and swallowed dust. Some were diagnosed with other illnesses, including cancer.

– With files from Jennifer Peltz, The Associated Press

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