By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – As firetruck cranes held aloft the Stars and Stripes and bagpipes played, first responders and community members honored the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks during a 20th anniversary remembrance.
Dearborn Police Corp. Dan Bartok Jr., master of ceremonies, said 9/11 is a day that will never be forgotten, as he reviewed the timeline and recalled the number of lives lost at each location 20 years ago.
The Dearborn police and fire honor guard posted the colors, with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Tom Wilson, Dearborn Veteran of the Year.
The Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums provided a stirring musical tribute, followed by an invocation by Dearborn Police Reserve Officer Chaplain John Rademaker.
Police Chief Ronald Haddad said that 20 years ago, we all remember where we were, and said when his father called him and told him to turn on the television, he knew it was going to be bad news.
“I still get the chills,” he said. “And I asked, ‘What do we do now?’”
Haddad said because of the terrorist attacks, the Arabic and Muslim community in Dearborn was marginalized and demonized.
“From a public safety perspective, we are so much stronger today,” he said. “State, county, federal, police, fire – our responses don’t even resemble what they did 20 years ago. In response to COVID, and floods, and mass shootings every weekend in America, we are totally coordinated to better protect you, and that came out of 9/11.”
Haddad said he is proud of the public safety law enforcement community.
“When you stop to think, less than 0.4 percent of our population protects the entire country, and have the courage, the backbone and the commitment to put this badge on and put these uniforms on to protect our people,” he said. “We have a great country, and we need to support our first responders, and more importantly, we need to support one another.”
Fire Chief Joseph Murray said the nation will never forget the heroism of the rescue workers, firefighters and police officers.
“The images and the memories from that day shall continue to touch us and inspire generations,” he said. “This nation rediscovered its heroes that day, in those that paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Murray said their sacrifices inspired others to pursue civic duty, including Dearborn’s first responders.
“Strength and hope were also found when a few tried to divide Americans that day,” he said. “By blending various cultures and various religions, I was proud then and I am proud now of Dearborn, Michigan.
“We refused to give way to stereotyping, ignorance and violence, and our community remains a beacon of hope to the nation.”
Murray said the people of Dearborn have always called each other co-workers, neighbors and friends.
He said that the Dearborn Fire Department has retired badge 343 in memory of the number of firefighters lost during the response to the 9/11 attacks, to remind the generations of firefighters that follow them of the sacrifices made that day.
Past Allied War Veterans Commander Phil Smith said 20 years ago was one of the worst days in American history, and those who lost their lives will never be forgotten.
Following a moment of silence, a bell tolled, and the bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”
Jim Helka of the Allied War Veterans Council played taps, followed by a benediction by Rademaker.