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9/11 First Responders Honored in Coppell

Coppell—The 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks invoked a plethora of emotions from those of us who remember that dark day. However, the memories of those dastardly acts hit home for our first responders, who were honored in a ceremony on the front steps of Coppell Town Center on Friday, Sept. 10.

The lawn of the nearby fire station was covered with American flags. Many members of the Coppell Fire and Police Departments along with several hundred residents were present.

The Coppell Police honor guard lowered the colors in front of the building and both the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” were sung.

A small contingent of bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” to honor those fallen heroes.

“It was 20 years ago; we had tragic events in our nation that we had never seen before,” Danny Barton, Coppell Police Chief, said. “We had first responders who were called to action like they had never been called to before. We saw them rush to all those things.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember being on patrol, and I couldn’t make sense of what was going on, so I went to the police station. We gathered around the TV in the break room. Everybody on duty was there.You could hear a pin drop; it was so quiet in there.”

“When the first tower collapsed, a lot of the emotion broke out in that room, because we knew not everyone had made it out. We wondered how many firemen were making their way up those stairs.”

Barton also vividly recalled the scene at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport after the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all domestic air traffic, forcing planes to land at their nearest airport.

“There were planes as far as you could see in line,” Barton said. “They were landing every 50 seconds, and there was complete uncertainty as to what was going on for all of us.”

Over 400 first responders did not return to their families on that fateful day in New York City. Their names were read by members of the Coppell Police and Fire departments, residents, and other dignitaries.

“In the fire service, we have coined the phrase that we’re never going to forget the lives of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice 20 years ago,” Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson said. “They are heroes that I will never forget.

“There were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, 33 flight crew members and 9 private emergency medical service personnel who went to work that day just like any other day, and they didn’t make it home.”

Richardson then led the ringing of fire bells in three sets of five. This stands for 555, meaning the apparatus is in the station.

The ceremony was an impactful way to honor the memories of those who perished on that fateful day,running into harm’s way to help those affected with little to no concern for their own personal safety.

Their focus was on doing whatever they could to help others. They not only died doing what they loved, but they did so with honor.

“All of you who remember 9/11 remember where you were, remember who you were with, you remember who you called, who you hugged, and you remember what became important,” Barton said. “Today we honor those first responders who rushed to those scenes and gave the ultimate sacrifice 20 years ago.”