A handful of first responders from New York joined hundreds of their Canadian peers at Peace Arch Park Sunday to pay tribute to those who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In a sombre ceremony, police, firefighters and paramedics – and a few civilians – gathered for the morning event. The majority arrived by motorcycle, as part of the 9-11 Memorial Ride to the Peace Arch, which set off from the River Rock Casino in Richmond around 8 a.m.
Fire trucks that participated flew American and Canadian flags along the Highway 99 route.
While speakers at the park described a “horrible” scene, the likes of which most people have only viewed in movies, none who were in New York the day planes were flown into the World Trade Centre towers spoke of specific memories.
The tribute, organized by former Ladner resident Guy Morrall, was the ride’s ninth year, inspired by a 2002 cross-continent motorcycle trek Morrall made to New York to commemorate the one-year anniversary of 9-11. He wanted a way to respect and honour those who died, Morrall told Black Press in an earlier interview.
Attendees Sunday said the convoy of motorcyclists and arriving at the park was impressive, and the emotion witnessed – from tears to extended hugs – was “tremendously moving.”
While many emergency responders were told there wasn’t room for them at the Ground Zero ceremony, as victims’ families were given priority, four men representing New York’s Port Authority, police and fire departments said they were glad to be at the Peace Arch event.
“Being here is an honour,” said New York firefighter John Rugen after he briefly described his memories of the attack to the crowd.
NYPD officer Brian Kenny said the support shown Sunday “will go very far in helping me move past what terrible things I saw.”
– with files from James Maclennan and Gord Goble