Sept 12, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Remembrance. That is what the second week of September has been about since that day 11 years ago when a group of terrorists with a hate for our way of life waged war on the rest of the world. Yes, the attacks that occurred at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a quiet field in Shanksville, Pa., took place on U.S. soil, but it affected the entire world. Twenty-six Canadians were killed in the attacks and many firefighters from Canada travelled to New York to help with the rescue and recovery efforts.
But yesterday, fewer people attended the memorials in the United States. Some memorials were cancelled all together and as I read in another publication, “Are people starting to forget?”
I do not think that the issue is people forgetting. I believe that people are just beginning to move on. People may finally be starting to heal from that horrible day and although they are not forgetting, they are moving on. Moving on is not a bad thing. With the construction of a permanent memorial that opened in time for last year’s event at Ground Zero, maybe people are just remembering and visiting the site at different times throughout the year now.
Fellow blogger Jay Shaw touched on the fact that Canada does not see as many firefighter deaths or events of this magnitude with multiple firefighters dying at once. Thank goodness for that. But each year there are others who make the supreme sacrifice who need to be remembered. With each LODD, we as a fire service study the events leading up to the tragedy and, hopefully, learn from the incident and move on.
Last weekend, the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (CFFF) dedicated a new monument in Ottawa to those firefighters who have given their lives to serve Canadians. Now, on the first Sunday in September, families of Canadian firefighters will have a permanent place of their own to reflect on their losses. Will they attend Ottawa every year for the memorial services? Likely not; they will move on. Will they forget? Never.
As I write this, a crew of firefighters from Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) is on the way to downtown Calgary to participate in a fundraiser stair climb at the Calgary Tower for the CFFF. Many of them were in their pre-teen years when the attacks took place but they remember. Is the event taking advantage of the memories of 9-11? Some may say so but really, are we not just moving on? Remember those Canadian brothers and sisters who have passed in the last year.
I am privileged to have three of my photographs on permanent display at the City of Calgary’s memorial to police and firefighters at city hall. Tuesday also marked a day of remembrance for Calgary firefighters. I have never been to the memorial site. I have never forgotten the friends to whom the plaza is dedicated, but until now, I haven’t been able to move on. Next week I am going to stop by city hall in Calgary and finally go and visit the memorial. Time for me to move on.
Rob Evans is the chief fire officer for Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, 25 kilometres west of Calgary. Evans attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1989 and studied photojournalism. In 1992, he joined RMES after taking pictures of an interface fire and making prints for the department. He has his NFPA 1001 level II certification, NFPA 472 Operations and Awareness (hazmat), NFPA 1041 level I (fire service instructor), Dalhousie University Certificate in Fire Service Leadership and Certificate in Fire Service Administration and is a registered Emergency Medical Responder with the Alberta College of Paramedics. He lives in Redwood Meadows with his wife, a firefighter/EMT with RMES, and three children.