A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Firefighters from throughout NKY gather at World Peace Bell in Newport to remember those lost on 9/11

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

The Northern Kentucky Firefighters Association and the Newport Fire/EMS Departments held a memorial service at the World Peace Bell Tuesday to remember the tragic loss and heroic events of September 11, 2001.

Firefighters gather at the World Peace Bell in Newport Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks, to pay tribute to those who perished on that day (photos by Mark Hansel).

Lt. Scott Kohrs of the Newport Fire Department moderated the event.

“Today is the 17th anniversary of the 911 attacks,” Kohrs said. “We come together to show respect for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and those who continue to fight the post-illness today. We remember all of those who take the call to protect others from harm.”

Father Matthew Young, the Newport Fire and Police chaplain delivered the invocation and closing prayer. He said the entire nation was touched by the events of Sept. 1, 2001, from the loss of loved ones, to changes in the national mood.

“We remember our anger and fear, gritting like sand in our teeth,” Young said. “Anger at lives lost, at words and actions of retaliation, at excuses to oppress people in our own country, and fear over what might happen. We remember our sorrow, we grieve with those who mourn, with tears, salty water flowing from our eyes.”

It is important now, Young said, to hope that the tears become seed for a better today and a brighter tomorrow.

Joe Baer, president of the Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association, was the guest speaker. He said it doesn’t matter how people remember that tragic day, as long as they don’t forget.

Firefighters place a wreath at the base of the memorial columns in Newport, that symbolize the Twin Towers, near the World Peace Bell Tuesday.

He spoke of the 2,996 people killed on Sept. 11, 2011, which included the 19 terrorists, 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers, as well as 55 military personnel at the Pentagon.

“The remaining were just innocent civilians that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Baer said. “At these ceremonies, we need also to remember the thousands that have lost their lives since and another 9,000 who were exposed and unfortunately, possibly will succumb in the future. The ones who suffer from PTSD, or were exposed to the carcinogenic toxins…while they were treating the remains of the fallen, so that the families could provide them with a proper burial.

Despite the loss of life and devastation to the nation and the world, Baer said some of the upgrades to equipment and supplies, as a result of the tragedy, have helped make the job safer for firefighters today.

“We’ve also make great strides in passing legislation at the federal and state level, that recognizes the correlation between firefighting and cancer, firefighting and PTSD, and we are tirelessly working to advance those as well,” Baer said.

The ceremony included the tolling of the firefighter bell, and the World Peace Bell. Kohrs explained the significant role the bell plays in the life of a firefighter, which goes beyond signaling the beginning of a shift.

The World Peace Bell in Newport tolled Tuesday, in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the Sept, 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded by the bell which summoned the brave souls that fight fires and place their lives in jeopardy for the good of fellow citizens,” Kohrs said. “When the fire was out and the alarm came to the end, it was the bell that signaled the completion of the call. When a firefighter had died in the line of duty, paid the supreme sacrifice, it was the mournful toll of the bell that solemnly announced the comrade’s passing.”

Kenton County Sheriff Charles Korzenborn played taps and two Newport firefighters placed a wreath at the memorial columns that represent the Twin Towers, near the World Peace Bell.

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso said the World Peace Bell was the appropriate setting for such a solemn remembrance. He praised local businessman Wayne Carlisle, who commissioned the World Peace Bell, which was cast in France in 1998. It arrived in Newport in August 1999, two years before the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks.

Kenton County Sheriff Charles Korzenborn stands at attention with his head bowed as the World Peace Bell tolls in remembrance of lives lost on Sept. 1, 2001.

“(Carlisle) felt that part of his legacy was to try to do what he could to promote world peace and this is a great setting for a ceremony such as this and anything that promotes that objective,” Peluso said.

The ceremony included elected officials, citizens and first responders from fire departments throughout Northern Kentucky.

Peluso said the annual events are important to pay homage to those who perished on that tragic day, but also as a reminder for future generations and to recognize those who continue to serve.

“We should never forget that any day, at any time anything can happen to our first responders, so it’s important that we all remember the job that they do for us,” Peluso said. “There’s a brotherhood there and they understand that they all work together and understand that there are times when they are going to have to work together to keep us safe.”

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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