PORT ANGELES — A brief ceremony honoring the first responders who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was held Monday at 9/11 Memorial Waterfront Park in Port Angeles.
The annual ceremony — held at a park renamed to commemorate the event and which features part of a steel I-beam recovered from Ground Zero in New York City — featured remarks from local public safety officials and a performance by the Grand Olympics Chorus.
A similar ceremony was conducted in Jefferson County.
“The world watched in disbelief while, in moments of chaos, the true spirit of heroism emerged,” said Port Angeles Fire Department Chief Derrell Sharp, speaking to a crowd of more than 50 people, including a number of first responders from Port Angeles and Sequim.
First responders in New York City and Washington, D.C., “rushed toward danger, selflessly putting their lives on the line,” Sharp said. “They faced a situation of unimaginable horror, but their courage and determination did not waiver. They inspired a nation and ultimately the whole world.”
Fire stations across East Jefferson County observed a minute of silence at 8:46 a.m. Monday. Personnel with East Jefferson Fire Rescue, Brinnon Fire, Discovery Bay Volunteer Fire & Rescue and Quilcene Fire Rescue pulled their fire apparatus out in front of their stations to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.
A ceremony also took place by the Bell Tower at 319 Tyler St. in Port Townsend.
Speakers at the Port Angeles memorial included Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith and Clallam County Sheriff Brian King, both of whom spoke about how Sept. 11 changed their lives and careers.
Smith said after he visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City this year, the date became about what he called “the spirit of 9/11.”
“It’s people that, in the moment, make decisions and do things where they don’t know the outcome,” Smith said. “I believe the spirit of 9/11 lives on the Olympic Peninsula.”
Watching first responders run into the World Trade Center, King said he realized what his purpose is in law enforcement.
In addition to a performance of the national anthem, the Grand Olympic Chorus sang three songs: Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, also known as Proud to be an American; My County ’Tis of Thee and God Bless America.
The Port Angeles event is organized every year by Alan Barnard, chair and founder of the Public Safety Tribute Citizens Committee and co-creator of the park’s monuments, to honor both local and national public safety officials.