As many first responder units across the country, Plympton’s fire and police departments gathered together on Sunday, September 11, to commemorate those lost as the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City came down.
The ceremonial lowering of the flag to half-staff was at 9:30 a.m. to a small, solemn audience.
Plympton Fire Chief Stephen G. Silva spoke to the assembly, noting the pain and sacrifice that continue to this day. These are his words:
“Blue skies, crisp air, perfect early fall day in New England, a perfect morning so quickly changed.
“In less than 2 1/2 hours more than 2,977 people were killed, 25,000 injured. 343 firefighters killed, 71 police officers perished, many whose remains have never been recovered; they simply disintegrated. Twenty-one years later the toll continues to rise. More then 1,400 rescue workers who spent tireless hours, weeks and months on the “pile” have died of WTC (World Trade Center) related cancer, and there will surely be more. The FBI has stated that the outliers of the related deaths will go on for years; the full impact of carnage may never be known.
“Who died? We all did to some degree. There was no separation of white collar to blue collar, there was no separation by where we came from, there was no separation of White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, they were just people who started their day as they always did, awaken, breakfast, get ready for their day, get kids off to school, kiss a love one good-bye as they left for work never knowing they would disappear.
“The days and weeks after America was gripped first in fear – maybe that is the wrong word, vigilance perhaps – we waited for the next attack. Thankfully it did not come. Our rage and fear quickly turned to patriotism. We were attacked. Our brothers and sisters died and for what? For freedom. Freedom we take so easily for granted. Freedom to raise a family. Freedom to live. Freedom of live liberty. Freedom.
“Flags were flown; people came together, crime rates actually dropped. The terrorists underestimated the resolve of Americans. There was no looting, no riots, no shootings; there was pride, resolve, yes there was anger but that anger was channeled for good.
“God forbid something like 9/11 would happen today. Truthfully it has; the war between good and evil continues as it always does. We see it every day. No not to the scale of 9/11 but in increments. It is our response that has changed. Today we blame each other. There is so little discourse. It seems if your opinion is different than someone else’s you risk offending and then your own cancelation.
“James Madison, a founding father, warned us in 1788 at the Continental Congress in Virginia, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
“What has happened? Where is the pride? Where is the vision? Where is America?
“Let us never forget 9/11, and equally important let us never forget what we are … we are AMERICANS. That is not something to shy from, it is something to be thankful for.
I will leave you with this from President Harry Truman:
“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and on unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
Remember 9/11, remember those who died, remember this day, we shall never forget.”
Stephen G. Silva, Chief