Honouring the Lives Lost


By Isabella Lee

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 or 9/11 was a horrific and terrifying event. The world stood still as the Pentagon burned and the World Trade Center towers eventually fell killing thousands of people including 400 emergency personnel.

The terrorist group al-Qaeda had coordinated nineteen airplane hijackers to commit four terrorist attacks against the United States that morning. The first airplane crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center complex at 8:46 am, followed by a second airplane which crashed into the South tower at 9:03 am. The third plane crashed into the western facade of the Pentagon at 9:37 am. The final flight was not able to make it to its planned location because the passengers tried to overcome the hijackers which led the plane to crash on a field in Pennsylvania at 10:03 am.

As this tragedy unfolded, many fire and emergency personnel responded to the call for aid by raising money and by going to ground zero to help in person.

Major Glen Habkirk from the Salvation Army and the chaplain for Lethbridge Fire Department went to ground zero. He was able to have interactions with many of the emergency personnel and experience the horrors that many faced during the rescue and recovery efforts. In an interview with Collections Technician Kevin MacLean regarding a donation to the museum, Habkirk stated that, “they came and they asked me if I would come down the hall – and by the hall I mean a large hall about six floor levels below ground. And I went with them and when they would find bodies they would find a clergy to come and to do a committal.  And I went down there and there was six bags of body parts and there isn’t anything that prepares you to handle that, but you do it.” He also talks about an interaction he had with a paramedic: “I’ll never forget the paramedic who was across the road from us coming and he was in tears… [saying], ‘We had to shovel the remains into a bag.’ There’s no school that teaches you what to do with that. You hug each other.” The cleanup of ground zero was completed in May 2002 and the Pentagon was repaired within a year.

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony in Lethbridge will be held on Tuesday, September 11 at 11:00 am at Southminster United Church (1011-4 Ave South). A parade of uniformed personnel will begin at Fire Headquarters at approximately 10:30 am marching to Southminster United Church. Please join them in honouring those lost in the line of duty.