Firefighters in Aspen today marked the 13th anniversary of 9-11 with a somber ceremony. The event not only recognized the World Trade Center attacks, but also touched on President Obama’s recent efforts to root out Islamic State extremists. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.
The mood was reflective and somber as local firefighters lined up outside the Aspen firehouse just after noon. A large American Flag waved high overhead as a group of more than 100 people gathered. A bell rang to remember the 343 firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center.
"When that bell rings it signifies a firefighter death, where one of our brothers or sisters didn’t come back from an assignment," says Rick Balentine, the Aspen Fire Chief.
He says the annual ceremony is meant specifically for firefighters.
"It’s a way we deal with the tragedy of 9-11 and how, I can only speak for myself, sad I’ve felt for the 13 years and everyday since."
The event included several speeches, including one from Pitkin County Sheriff Joe Disalvo. He urged the crowd to remember members of the military who are being called to fight extremists in Syria and Iraq.
"Ironically, on the eve of September 11th our President told us all that American aircraft and American personnel will be headed back to this region to assist the Iraqi and Syrian governments to push back yet another terrorist threat."
Afterward, he said he’s surprised the U.S. is fighting the same problems today.
"We’re probably going to invest the next couple of years in Iraq and Syria, fighting the same war we were fighting for 13 years. We’re trying to remember today. I don’t know why we can’t remember the mistakes we’ve made in the past," he says.
President Obama’s plan includes an expansive air campaign against the Islamic State. NPR reports the effort could last years.
The ceremony wrapped up as firefighters laid a wreath on top of a piece of the World Trade Center’s north tower. The large metal piece was donated to the firehouse in 2010 by a group of New York City firefighters.