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The Daily Tar Heel

Local Firefighters Commemorate Fallen Brothers, Sisters

343 firefighters, 70 policemen lost Sept. 11.

Nothing could be heard except the ringing of the bell, which then dissipated into complete silence.

Fire Chief Dan Jones said the station sounded the traditional "5-5-5" last alarm bell during a memorial at the fire department in recognition of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, specifically the 343 firemen and 70 policemen.

The last alarm is typically rung when a firefighter loses his life in the line of duty.

Jones requested that attendees keep in their hearts the victims of the attacks and their families. "It's about freedom, it's about community, and it's about public safety," he said.

The Public Works Ensemble sang two gospel songs to introduce the program. Richard Goldston, a member of the ensemble, said he thought the program was outstanding and a fitting way to observe the anniversary of the attacks.

"We commemorate by acknowledging the fact that even though we lost a lot of people, God is still in control of our lives," he said.

Chapel Hill police Lt. Joe Jackson sang the national anthem, Triangle resident David Quillin played a soulful rendition of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, and retired fire department Deputy Chief Larry Johnson sang "America the Beautiful," all of which made the crowd's eyes brim with tears in remembrance.

Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy also spoke, detailing the importance of honoring the one-year anniversary.

"It is reassuring and comforting for all of us to be here to lean on each other for strength," he said. "We recognize our fellow citizens whose lives were destroyed a year ago, and we celebrate the lives of the heroes who were born in the torment of the past year."

Former UNC-system President Bill Friday shared his personal experience on Sept. 11 as the guest speaker.

"I was in New York City one year ago this very morning," he said. "I witnessed a great city coming to a halt."

Friday spoke of the train and subway stoppages and the closing of bridges and tunnels. "We should give thanks that we live in a free land as free people," he said. "Our nation that day -- for one moment -- became one family. We must gather our strength, be proud and grateful of these people who gave their lives."

Capt. Robbie Borgesi of the fire department said the event distinguished the relationship among public safety officers across the country.

"There's a brotherhood across public safety lines," he said. "We felt it here in North Carolina, even though they're in New York. It's a positive thing we can do to recognize our brothers and sisters. It meant almost everything to me."

The City Editor can be reached at

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