The Chief's Notes


Each year on 9-11 since the 1st anniversary in 2002, I am asked to say a few words at this anniversary or observance – what is now Patriot Day. And each year I relive the memories, the horrific visions, the angst and the anger. Call it Critical Incident Stress or PTSD, but I, and my brother and sister Firefighters, and first responders, all Americans and much of the world, have this day – in 2001 etched into our very souls. So, General Smith, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Soldiers, family and friends – Firefighters Wallace, Skipper, and Young from Fort Myer FD, and First Responders come walk in my Fire Chief shoes as we recognize and remember. To recognize and remember this horrific event; to recognize the heroes and the horrendous cost they paid; and to recognize the work and sacrifice that continues this day to keep our country and our citizenry safe – lest we forget.

We are here today – 12 years since the unthinkable happened. America was attacked without provocation; one of the most cowardly attacks ever perpetrated against the United States of America. Twelve years after Terrorists stopped this country in its tracks, for a short time, yet brought us together, stronger and more resilient. Like Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, we are here to remember – as this is a day, an event, and a tragedy that should never be and can never be forgotten.

For most of us here, the images of 9/11 are forever burned in our psyche; from our first views of the World Trade Center's twin towers and the initial assumption that a tragic accident occurred, to the realization that we were under attack. Most of us were glued to the TV and radio for hours and then days - watching the smoke rising over iconic New York and the capital; watching injury and death unfolding before our very eyes, and then watching good people taking care of friends and strangers alike. There are some who say "this was 12 years in the past" and "it is time to move on." To them I say, not just no, but hell no – lest we forget.

We are here to recognize and remember our Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as numerous other Government agencies who have taken the fight to the enemy. They are protecting our Nation's Interests aboard. These Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coastguardsmen have been fighting the evil abroad on a myriad of battlefields and countries. Many have paid the ultimate price and thousands more have been wounded. Our own Duke Brigade, 703rd EOD, 233rd Trans, 4th Cav Brigade, 3rd ESC, 11th Aviation, and others have shed their blood as a direct response to 9/11 and our resolve to protect the homeland. Today, we recognize that sacrifice and remember – lest we forget.

This day, just like the one 12 years ago, first responders are changing shifts, working out the daily details and tasks, checking equipment and hoping for a quiet day. As I am sure our brother firefighters from Fort Myer will attest, 9/11 was no different. Little did they know that their world, and in turn, the whole world would change forever in a matter of moments and hours. First responders like you in front of me, work and sacrifice to keep the homeland safe each and every day. Terms like "first in – last out"; the "desire to serve", the "ability to perform" and "the courage to act"; "to protect and to serve" are not just mottos, they are a commitment to public service. 343 firefighters lost their lives that fateful day protecting their fellow citizens – the single largest loss in Fire Service history. We are here today to recognize that sacrifice and remember – lest we forget.

Our commitment continues today as does the danger faced each and every day. 66 Police Officers have died in the line of duty thus far this year. As we have all heard, one Police Officer was ambushed and gunned down on the side of the road not far from here for no apparent reason. 75 Firefighters have lost their lives in places like Arizona, Texas, Detroit. EMS has lost too many in vehicle accidents and helicopter crashes. Every one of them had one thing in common, come to work, do the job, and take care of our customers, you – the public.

So let us recognize and remember what happened 12 years ago today. Let us make sure the youth of America understand what happened and how it changed much throughout our land. Those 13 or 14 year olds do not have those scenes burned into their memories like most of us. Let us recognize and remember those heroes of flight 93, who sacrificed themselves by fighting back and ending up in a field in Pennsylvania. Let us remember and recognize those thousands of innocent lives lost at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Let us remember and recognize the 343 Firefighters lost that day. And, let us recognize and remember the thousands of service men and woman who have fought and died on distant shores since. Lest we forget!

Bells will now toll throughout the country. It is a tradition that began over 100 years ago that continues today. When fire call boxes were on most corners of our larger cities, they were used to report fires over telegraph lines and to provide information to firefighters throughout the city. They would report the location through a series of codes that rang into the fire houses. The fire houses could transmit alarms in the same way using a series of codes with ringing bells. When a firefighter was lost in the line of duty, the code used was a series of 4 sets of 5 bells. This was to alert all within hearing that a firefighter had made the ultimate sacrifice. This practice, once heard only in fire stations and fire halls has become an integral part of remembrance on 9/11.

Now let us toll the bells for the 4 fives.

First for those that lost their lives at the World Trade Center...

For those lost at the Pentagon...

For those from Flight 93 that fell in Shanksville, Pennsylvania...

For the 343 Firefighters lost that day...

We now add to traditions with the 5th five – to honor those lost throughout the world in the war on terrorism...

Let us continue to recognize and remember – Lest we forget!


Fort Knox
Fire Station One

Old Ironsides Avenue, Bldg 469
Fort Knox, Kentucky 40121

Telephone: 502-624-6016
Telephone: 502-624-1876
Telephone: 502-624-6032
DSN: 464-6016/1876/6032

Fax: 502-624-1391



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Updated 24 November 2015