ROCKLAND — Residual smells from salutatory rifles briefly and subtly drifted into the Rockland Fire Station, Wednesday morning, Sept. 11. It was just a tickle under the noses of the law enforcement, EMTs, and firefighters gathered in remembrance of a far greater smoke, a far louder boom 18 years ago.
As they have for several years now – with no expectation of ceasing – the fire department held it’s annual September 11 ceremony, Wednesday, at 9 a.m., holding a moment of silence for those who were lost, including 343 NYFD members and 23 NYPD members, as well as those who continue to suffer.
9/11 has become a day to recognize the hometown heroes who sacrifice day in and day out, “and may have unfortunately lost their battle,” according to Rockland Firefighter Carl Anderson.
“Cpt. Joel Barnes, of the Berwick Fire Department, died in the line of duty, doing to the same job that everybody was doing on September 11,” he said. “Right here in Rockland, Sgt. Matthew Lindahl died of cancer only two months ago.
September 11 has also become a reminder of the new statistics, reports and stories that come to light each year.
On Sept. 6, 2019, the Journal of the American Medical Association released findings from a study showing that the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease is 44% greater among firefighters who arrived on the morning of 9/11 compared with those who arrived after noon, or later. Earlier studies identified an increase in autoimmune rheumatological disease, and blood cancer precursors to multiple myeloma.
33,000 first responders suffer from illness and injury that can be traced back to 9/11, according to CBS News. Among them, 204 FDNY firefighters have been laid to rest post 9/11. For NYPD, 241, according to CDC statistics.
22 FDNY names are currently being added to their Memorial Wall. The names include: 13 firefighters, two captains, two lieutenants, one chief, two EMTs, one paramedic and one doctor.
On a positive note, this year’s FDNY Firefighter Academy will graduate – among others – 13 children whose firefighter fathers died on 9/11.
“Having a remembrance ceremony is a wonderful thing after everybody is gone,” said Anderson. “But letting people know that you care about them and the job that they do every single day matters right now.”
Said Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock, “We’ll be doing this forever, as far as I’m concerned.”
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org