SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — Nearly a hundred people participated in the Surf City Bridge Walk Saturday morning to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of September 11.
Firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMS workers led the procession from the mainland side of the bridge at precisely 8:46 a.m. which is the moment the first plane flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Surf City Fire Chief Allen Wilson says he remembers how news of the terrorist attacks that day shook everyone no matter where you lived.
“Once the news started pouring in,” Wilson said, “our lives forever changed.”
Remembering the victims and the sacrifices made by the first responders on that day are something Wilson says Americans should never forget.
“I think some of our younger generation they don’t know what happened, either they weren’t born or were too young to remember to really understand what was going on,” Wilson said. “It’s really important for us to make sure that everybody remembers exactly what happened.”
While details of the separate attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA, are beginning to fade from public consciousness, Wilson says first responders who were there are still suffering the long-term effects of that day two decades later.
More than 400 firefighters, police or EMS workers who worked at the scene of the collapsed World Trade Center towers have since died. Many of them have suffered illnesses believed to have been triggered or made worse by the toxic air they breathed for sustained periods of time at the site.
“Its not just the 343 that died that day, it’s the hundreds that have died afterwards due to the effects of working at Ground Zero,” and Wilson added. “Its about remembering those people just as well.”
As drivers on the Surf City Bridge drove by the procession, some stopped holding up cars behind them and while others honked their horns in a show support for the walkers.
“I think its really great to see community support,” Wilson said. “Not only are they supporting the firefighters, they’re supporting everybody, the whole country as we try to unite and build a better tomorrow.”
This was the second year for the Surf City Bridge Walk. The Surf City Fire Department plans to make it an annual event.