The Great Bend Fire and EMS Department is planning a short remembrance ceremony next Sunday on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The ceremony at 8:30 a.m. at Fire Station No. One, 1205 Williams St., is in honor of all the public safety and military personnel who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, GBFD Fire Chief Mike Napolitano said.
"This remembrance ceremony is being conducted in conjunction with many cities in the United States at this same hour," Napolitano noted in a memo to his staff. People will arrive at the station in their department uniforms at 8:30 a.m., so they can assemble and line up outside by the flag pole and bell at the front of the building by 8:50 a.m. At 8:59 a.m. the station bell will be rung, to be followed by a moment of silence, and a prayer.
GBFD Battalion Chief John Stettinger recalls being in uniform on Sept. 11, 2001. His shift had ended at 8 a.m. and he had gone from the station to a doctor’s appointment. Before the hour ended, he and others watched the televised images of an airplane hitting the first tower. By the end of the day, 343 active duty firefighters had lost their lives in New York.
Stettinger has created two wood scroll-saw carvings as his own memorial. One is a Maltese cross, the recognized badge of firefighters everywhere. It bears the words, "In memory, NYFD," the date, "9-11-01," and the number 343. The second carving is in the shield shape that denotes law enforcement. It shows the New York skyline with the Twin Towers, a U.S. flag and the date.
"It doesn’t matter if you’re in New York or Kansas," Stettinger said. "If you lose a fireman somewhere, it’s one of us."
That’s why he plans to send his carvings to New York, for display at a fire station or police station. But first, they’ll be making an appearance this week when the Kansas State Fair at Hutchinson opens on Friday. Another Great Bend resident, Stettinger’s friend Tom Humburg, will be building a replica of the World Trade Center and Pentagon out of 16,000 wood blocks for the State Fair’s own 9/11 remembrance. Stettinger helped cut and sand the blocks for his friend’s models, and his carvings will grace the display.
Humburg’s block stacking skills were featured at the Barton County Fair in 2010. Through his models, he pays tribute to the those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, something he wants Americans to never forget.