“It’s our way of showing respect to all those that died that day and the hundreds who have died since then.”
Jim Chimento, a member of Destrehan’s Eastside St. Charles Parish Volunteer Fire Department, became emotional when he talked about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the infamous 9-11 attacks. The Fire Department of New York lost 343 firefighters on 9/11, and many more are battling illnesses believed to stem from the contaminated air at the site.
Over 110 firefighters have reportedly died of their 9/11 injuries since 9/11.
Chimento said he and other firefighters he knows were greatly affected by the tragedy.
“We have been honoring the memory of the September 11th attacks each year with a memorial flag ceremony at our 1901 Ormond Blvd station,” he said. “This year marks the 20th anniversary, and since it falls on a Saturday we are planning something special.”
On Sept. 11 the public is invited to join parish firefighters, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and parish officials at a special ceremony and commemorative walk. The ceremony will be held at the Jerusalem Shriners, located at 1940 Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan – directly across Ormond Boulevard from the fire station.
“It starts at 7:30 a.m.,” Michael Heath, another member of the Eastside Department, said. “The memorial will begin at 7:46 a.m. … the time the first plane flew into the first tower.”
Heath said after a short ceremony, firemen will lead a one-mile walk down Ormond Boulevard.
“We’ll end up at the fire house and have an open house,” he said. There will be hats for the kids and snowballs. Hopefully it’ll be a nice morning.”
Heath said the day of remembrance is important for everyone, but especially for some members of the fire department.
“The majority of the people in the fire service today … this is why they got in the fire service,” he said of 9/11. “It’s so meaningful. Many of us are not paid to be fire fighters … this was just the main thing that got us involved in service.”