This morning, Charlie Friderici couldn’t help but notice the sky.
It was blue, clear and peaceful, just like that morning 11 years ago that started the same way, but quickly turned anything but peaceful.
Friderici, a past fire chief for Niskayuna Fire District 2, spoke this morning at Niskayuna’s Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony, held at the flag poles at Town Hall, one of many such ceremonies held around the region and country this morning to remember the sacrifices and losses of that day.
“We’re here to remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001,” Friderici told gathered firefighters, police, paramedics and others. “We’re here to remember the sacrifices that were made by emergency service people, by civilians, by brave souls all around.
“We’re here to remember the innocent lives lost in moments that must have been sheer terror.”
Friderici spoke along with members of local clergy at a ceremony where the centerpiece was the traditional 5-5-5-5 firemen’s bell signal. Four times a firemen’s bell was rung five times, honoring those lost.
The signal is a call to lower flags to half staff, something that was done after the ringing. It is also a signal that firemen know means one of their own has died, Frederici told those present.
Leaning in front of the stand holding the bell was a newspaper page mounted on a card, yellowed with age. The page printed weeks after the attacks, showed photos of emergency services personnel lost or then still missing.
The page belongs to Robert Saltzman, retired firefighter/paramedic from Niskayuna District 1. Afterward, Saltzman said the page normally hangs on his wall at home.
“The fact is, these guys were doing what everybody here does, just on a different scale,” said Saltzman, whose son is now a paramedic in New York City with FDNY. “They got an alarm and responded to that alarm.”
Friderici has worked to organize the Niskayuna ceremony every year since the attacks.
As the years go by, he said it’s important to come back every Sept. 11 and remember.
“I think it’s important to remember it every year because if you start to go every 5, 10 or 15, then I think people forget. They forget how close this was to us.
“The people who lost a family member or a friend won’t, but I think the public needs to know that this is still real and everything that we’re doing today was shaped by 11 years ago.”
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