Huntsville remembers the 9/11 tragedy 18 years later

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The city of Huntsville is remembering the tragic event of 9/11.

The attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks on our nation the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Huntsville Fire and Rescue and Huntsville Police Department came together to host a ceremony honoring thousands of people who lost their lives.

At 7:46 a.m., the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Chief Mac McFarlen with Huntsville Fire and Rescue says they honor that exact moment with sirens. "That day in New York you could hear nothing but sirens of all the responding units," says McFarlen. "So that's what we are representing when we are doing the sirens and air horns."

18 years later, hearts are still hurting and memories of the tragedy are still fresh.

"When I came into duty, the first plane had just hit the first tower and I stood there with a captain I was relieving for the day... and the second plane hit," says McFarlen.

Chief Mark McMurray with Huntsville Police Department had a bomb dog with him. "I was on a trip in Tuscaloosa at the time. Before I drove home, my bomb dog had already been used on three searches." The dogs were being used for bomb calls. All across the country, people were calling 911 for what they thought were bombs in packages.

Capt. Mike Izzo with the Huntsville Police Department is native to New York, and a previous NYPD officer. "I remember my mom calling me and she had a view of the city and she said all the neighbors were up on the roofs watching the towers burn and they were all crying."

Izzo remembers the story of one firefighter, Raymond York.

"He was doing a fire safety class and the news truck was interviewing him at Rockefeller Center and he jumped into that news truck and they ran to the towers. The news truck got caught in traffic so he jumped in an ambulance. He went to the Trade Center and he reported to the command post in Tower 2... and that was the last time he was seen alive."

A piece of the twin towers lies within Huntsville Fire Station 1 on Clinton Avenue. Izzo says several NYPD officers attend Huntsville's bomb technician school at Redstone Arsenal. "Those NYPD officers were able to donate a piece of the debris to the city of Huntsville," he says.

This day is a big showing of what law enforcement risk their lives to protect us from each and every day.

All day, fire and police departments across the Tennessee Valley held their own ceremonies and memorials.

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