RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Two moments of silence were held outside Richmond's city hall, marking 14 years since the September 11th terror attacks. Each bell toll signified the moments the towers were struck. Richmond honored the 3,000 lives lost on that fateful day, and in the war against terror since, with a moving tribute.
September 11th, 2001, was a day exactly like today: warm, sunny, and bright. That would change drastically. Nearly a decade-and-a-half later, we gather to honor the lives of those who sacrificed and suffered since the September 11th attacks.
"They thought they could break us, but today we stand here unbroken," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.
Richmond's mayor, the city's fire and police chiefs, first responders, service men and women, Americans who can still envision that day, and those who weren't yet born, remember the lives lost forever.
Cell phone and radio recordings of victims and first responders played for all to understand the tragedy of 9/11 on a deeper level.
"The cockpit is not answering their phone. There's somebody stabbed in business class, and we can't breathe in business class. Somebody has got mace or something," said a passenger on one of the hijacked planes, in an audio recording played aloud.
Richmond Fire Chief Robert Creecy paid tribute to the courageous first responders who instantly put other lives before theirs. Hundreds never returned; thousands are still feeling the repercussions.
"Over 33,000 first responders have been diagnosed with at least one illness associated with 9/11. Almost 5,000 have been diagnosed with cancer," said Chief Creecy.
Denise Heer, now working as a wellness coordinator for Richmond city, struggled to make it out of New York City after the towers fell.
"…To look south, 20-plus blocks, and see nothing but a big cloud hovering between the buildings. That cloud was devastation, death, terror and evil," described Heer.
It is a dark cloud that has dissipated some over the years. However it will forever be ingrained in the memories of countless loved ones, friends, and Americans, honoring those who gave all to protect us.
"We know that they answered the call, like all first responders do, each and every day. So with unwavering commitment, courage, loyalty and training, they answered the call," said Lt. Michael Oprandy of the Richmond Fire Department.
Tonight at the Arthur Ashe Center, a three-day event honoring our nation's heroes and first responders kicks off. You can expect a big crowd at the God Bless America Crusade. Doors open at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public. Friday's tribute is to first responders. The event ends Sunday with a tribute to current military members and veterans.
This Sunday, firefighters from around RVA will climb the SunTrust Center, in honor of those first responders and everyone, who sacrificed and lost their lives on 9/11.
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