But as Craig Quimby and Joe Richards, firefighters with the Bloomington City Fire Department, hung a flag half-mast at Bloomington’s 9/11 Remembrance event at Ivy Tech Community College Sunday, only the wind made its voice heard.
The flag had previously waved in states across the country as it made its way to ground zero with 70 members of deCycles Indiana.
It’s been 10 years, but members of the Bloomington community remember the strength they found together in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They came together to honor that strength and remember those the community and country lost.
Bob Loviscek, Bloomington Metropolitan Professional Firefighters Union Local 586 President
“How would we evacuate the civilians?”
That was the question Loviscek thought of when his dad, a member of Engine 33 in Indianapolis, called to tell him to turn on the television.
Before it could be answered, a second plane slammed into the World Trade Center.
“The reaction in the room was probably the same reaction you all watched,” Loviscek said. “Stone silence.”
Nobody thought that in a matter of two hours, the twin towers would go down, Loviscek said to the crowd at Ivy Tech.
Three hundred forty-three firefighters, 72 police officers and more than 2,000 civilians lost their lives, and, 10 years ago, it was Loviscek’s job to lower the fire department’s flag in their honor.
“I remember lowering the flag outside the station and facing this lonely silence,” he said. “It forced us to change our lives every day. We saw the rebirth of citizens who affirmed their patriotism. As a nation, we slowly return to a sense of normalcy.”
John Whikehart, Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor
The images of Sept. 11 are not ones of fear, Whikehart said.
“They’re not about images of planes flying into buildings — those images of terror,” he said.
They are images of strangers helping strangers, he said, images of the nation coming together in support.
“We put aside, for a time being, our petty differences,” Whikehart said. “For a number of days, we were all New Yorkers. And our friends around the world, for a number of days, we were all Americans.”
For Whikehart, the most lasting image of the attack 10 years ago is a photo of a firefighter walking up the steps of the World Trade Center as people frantically made their way out of it.
“He was young. He was someone’s son,” Whikehart said. “And he was pushing against those trying to get out of the building.”
He turned the focus to firefighters and police officers in Bloomington.
“We want you to know that we never take you for granted,” he said.
Mark Kruzan, Mayor of Bloomington
Remember Sept. 12, Kruzan asked of the crowd at Ivy Tech.
It was the day the country began to recover, the day people began to recognize what happened.
“It was the day we explained it fully, the best we could, to our children,” Kruzan said.
He asked the crowd to acknowledge that everyone stands among heroes.
“A hero is someone that puts their own life at risk to save a person they’ve never met and may never know,” Kruzan said.
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