During a special 10th anniversary ceremony to remember and reflect upon the events of Sept. 11, members of the Abington Township community took a moment to thank the first responders who give their time and sacrificed their safety to keep others out of harm's way.
The anniversary of the terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of over 300 emergency responders, was a fitting time to honor the commitment and dedication of the firefighters, police and EMTs.
Among those who were honored at the emotional ceremony held at Our Lady Help of Christians Church were the five fire companies of the Abington Township Fire Department. Jenkintown's Independent and Pioneer Fire companies, and the Rockledge Fire Co. were also honored at the ceremony.
Certificates of commendation were awarded to those fire companies for their decades-long commitment to providing fire rescue, fire prevention and public education services to Abington and surrounding communities.
The day was a special one for the roughly 80 volunteer firefighters who attended wearing their Class A uniforms. While each person who was alive that day likely remembers where he or she was when they learned of the terrorist attacks, for firefighters, the Sept. 11 memories hit a little closer to home, given the sacrifices made by so many emergency responders.
"What it means to us is we lost 343 of our fellow firefighters that day," Augie Falbo, president of the Abington Fire Co. said. "We were affected to the point that we wanted to hop into our trucks and drive there."
Chief Engineer Norman Bauer of Edge Hill Fire Co. agreed. He recalled watching TV news coverage of the aftermath of the attacks with other non-firefighter colleagues who were commenting on the firefighters who were filmed going into the damaged skyscrapers.
"The people I was watching with said, 'Those firefighters are absolutely courageous going in there like that,' and I said, 'Looking at it from this vantage point, they shouldn't be going in, but if I was there, I'd be doing the same thing,'" he said.
Chief Chris Bors of McKinley Fire Co. said, "Any firefighter would have done the same thing.
"When people discuss your job with you, the events of Sept. 11 invariably come up," Bors said. "I don't know that it's changed the public's perception about firefighters, but it certainly increased awareness."
Bauer agreed, and said that in the days following Sept. 11, he recalled people saluting ATFD trucks and clapping for volunteers when they responded to calls. Even recently, he said a member of the public reserved a parking spot for him, and as he got out of the car, the resident thanked him for his service.
Falbo said events like the one held on Sept. 11 in Abington represent opportunities to remind people of the many others who are called into service when there is a public emergency.
Information and photos courtesy of Jessica Lester/Abington Township Fire Department