BY HAILEY MINTON
Ogden firefighters reflect on how the terrorist attack changed America and how we have changed since.
Firefighter Chris Berry had just finished his paramedic training and was offered a job in Provo. “That morning, I was at home, and my wife was at work. She called me and told me to turn on the tv. I spent a few hours watching it, and I got so angry. I had to turn it off. I could only watch the same video so many times.” He didn’t want to start his career angry. The following February, the winter Olympics were held in Utah. “”It was a weird feeling because we couldn’t really relax and enjoy the wonderful time because of the national security threat we felt like we still had. In downtown Provo, there were federal law enforcement snipers on the roofs every day. I was so paranoid, I sent my wife and new daughter away to St George for the week. Heaven forbid, if something were to happen, I didn’t want them here for it.”
He absolutely loved how patriotic everyone became after the attack. Cars had American flag stickers on them, and houses were flying American flags. “We had a lot of national pride. There were people joining the military, police, and fire departments like crazy. Then it tapered off. It was sobering to see that we as a nation just moved on. After a year, we forgot. American flags came down, and we moved on to the next tragedy or the next important thing in our lives.”
As I was researching, I found there were over 250 nonprofit organizations that collectively raised $700 million within their first two years of operation. By 2012, many of them disbanded due to lack of funding as time went on. One that is still around today is 9/11 Day, and they have turned the anniversary into a national day of service. Cindy McGinty lost her husband in the attack and said, “We can’t bring our loved ones back. But perhaps, in tribute, we can work to rekindle the spirit of unity that arose in the aftermath of the attacks.” If you want to take action, visit serve911.org for details about participating in a local food drive, blood drive, 5k or 2k race fundraiser, or a service project.
Chris said, “We need to teach kids and people to care more about each other than themselves. We’re so focused on our own life that we forget about the other people across the street. We don’t know our neighbors like we used to. We drive recklessly because we’re only caring about our own little sphere.” He sees a need to live compassionately and empathetically and teach those qualities to our children. As a nation, empathy was evoked in us that day 20 years ago, but as time goes on, it seems like it takes more effort individually to keep that empathy alive.
Firefighter Richard Kropp was a high school sophomore in New Jersey, right across the Hudson River and from the twin towers. He was in German Club watching a movie when another student came in and told everyone to go to the window. Everyone was confused. They could see the first tower on fire. “We weren’t quite close enough to see the second plane, but we saw the fireball.” A lot of kids in his school had family who worked around there. “There were a lot of people who were really affected by it. Everyone was just trying to figure out if their family was okay. It was the age of cellphones, but everybody didn’t always have one. It was a very emotional day to say the least.”
Each of the firefighters had vivid memories of that day. Some were into their careers as firefighters, and some were influenced to become a firefighter because of what happened. A few of them were in elementary school and participated in fundraisers for those who were affected. For those who were children at the time, it was hard to comprehend what had happened, but they all understood it was really, really bad. Time seemed to stop. Everyone was glued to the television as the events of that day unfolded.
Weber Remembers 9/11 Project
A great way to remember what happened that day is to attend Weber Remembers 9/11 Project at the Weber County Fairgrounds. All the events are free. The exhibit is an interactive museum experience using photo boards that were created to help visitors walk back in time. The time frame covers the late 1990s through the day of the terrorist attack and then into the response recovery time period. The north parking lot will have an exhibit of emergency and military vehicles where you can take pictures and talk with the professionals. There will also be live local entertainers. They need 400 volunteers over the course of the three days, so if you’re interested in helping, visit majorbrenttaylor.com.
Sept. 9th & 10th
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: 9/11 Exhibit Field Trips @ Weber County Fair Grounds
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Fairgrounds Exhibit Free & Open to the Public @ Weber County Fairgrounds. This includes the 9/11 Project Immersive Museum, community service exhibitors, “Touch a Truck” parking lot exhibit, and live entertainment.
6:46 a.m.: Early Morning Fire Memorials
@ Roy Fire Station No. 31
@ Riverdale Fire Station No. 41
@ Weber Fire Station No. 61 in Farr West
10 a.m.: Fairgrounds Exhibit Free & Open to the Public @ Weber County Fairgrounds. This includes the 9/11 Project Immersive Museum, community service exhibitors, “Touch a Truck” parking lot exhibit, and live entertainment.
Fire Ride Motorcycle Ride @ Salt Lake City to the Ogden Amphitheater fallenfirefightermemorial.org
12 p.m.: Firefighter Memorial Ceremony @ America’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park Next to the Ogden Amphitheater
8 p.m.: Fairground Exhibit Closes