For many of the somber young men lined up in their dress blues downtown Wednesday morning, the memories of what happened surface only as hazy fragments — or they’re nonexistent.
So it was Chicago Fire Battalion Chief Patrick Maloney’s mission — as it is every year at this time — to remind the younger firefighters what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, and why it must never be forgotten.
In front of the Engine 42 firehouse — and with Mayor Lori Lightfoot looking on — Maloney barked out a condensed version of that story.
Mamas with babies strapped to their chests looked on, as did tourists. A huge American flag fluttered beneath a mottled sky. Moist eyes were everywhere.
“As we hand down the memories, it’s a day we don’t want to forget,” said Maloney, who was among a team of 50 Chicago firefighters who arrived in New York the day after the attacks.
Maloney still recalls the greeting from a New York fire chief: “Welcome to hell, Chicago.”
California tourist Beverly Dubrin, 78, was just getting out of bed when the news of the attacks crackled from her radio.
“It’s one of those moments — like (President John) Kennedy’s assassination. You always remember where you were,” Dubrin said.
Lightfoot didn’t speak during the commemoration. Afterward she told reporters: “It’s a day that really transformed our lives in this country. It’s important that we never forget. It’s important that we give respect to our first responders and the people whose lives were lost and those victims whose lives are still being shaped by the events of that morning.”
The Chicago Fire Department will never forget the men and women who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attack on our country. We will NEVER forget you. pic.twitter.com/PeKVXK7p5R— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) September 11, 2019