This flag, photographed in the entry to my City Hall office set in flowers given to me at yesterday's Gateway Area Business Association event, was one of 343 + 72 = 415 placed and then given away at Fire Station 21 near the Hawthorne Bridge, in the Portland Tribute to Fire Fighters and Police Officers in New York who died after running into to the twin towers in an effort to help civilians getting out. Their sacrifice was not in vain: 35,000 people worked in the World Trade Center; all but 2,016 of them escaped (numbers from KPTV). We read the names of the 415 fallen First Responders today. I noticed "Kathy" and "Moira" in the list, along with Joe, Michael, Leonard, Jose, and many others.
Reading the names of First Responders. Photo by Martha Pellegrino, Govt. Relations
KGW coverage and video of the event organized by Senator Wyden and his staff is here.
One of the saddest stories I heard today, at a different remembrance service, was that of the couple whose daughter was a waitress in the Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center, while their son was a communications officer in the Pentagon. Both died, in the separate coordinated attacks. The distraught father soon after took his own life. How could a mother and wife endure such tragedy?
The most inspirational testimony at the Fire Station 21 event was from Wes Loucks, a retired Fire Fighter who with three others from Portland caught the first flight to New York after the flying ban was lifted, to help out. He said the Fire Fighters did not refer to the site as "Ground Zero" or "the pit" because they considered it hallowed ground due to the bravery of those who ran in. They called it "the pile", rather than the negative connotations of the other two references. Fire Fighter Loucks said the Fire Chief of NYC tried to banish anyone who was not from New York from working at "the pile", but Wes gave him a little Portland Attitude (my words not his), and asserted the right of any first responder to assist. Portland citizens' drive to volunteer prevailed.