GREENSBURG — As they’ve done almost every year since Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters from Greensburg Fire Department Station 1 rose early Friday to create a tribute to the 343 brave firefighters (including two EMTs and one chaplain) who made the ultimate sacrifice the day hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the heart of New York City.

Few of an age appropriate to remember that fateful September morning cannot describe where they were or what they were doing when they heard about the first hijacked plane slamming into the north tower. Even fewer who witnessed the spectacle unfold can forget the sense that something unusual and terrible had changed the world for the worse that day.

GFD Fire Chief Nate Stoermer remembers.

“I was in college finishing up my emergency medicine degree, and watched it all day on TV,” said Stoermer. “I was already going into service, but that day inspired me to keep on my path.”

Assistant Chief Brian Wenning remembers as well.

“That was an awful day,” he said. “The year afterward, I decided that something needed to be done to remember that day.”

Wenning spoke to Joe Rust, then the owner of “Crafts and Occasions” on the Greensburg Square.

“Joe said to me, ‘If you want to put a flag up for all 343 of those who died, I’ll give you them for free,’” said Wenning, recounting the conversation he had with Rust in 2002. “It started with those 343 miniature flags on the lawn in front of the station, and it has progressed since.”

Eventually, retired Fire Chief Steve Garrett purchased the oversized flag firefighters now hang between two erected ladder units to mark the anniversary of the attacks on America.

“Garrett always felt that way, and so do I,” said Wenning. “As long as I am here, we will never forget that awful day when so many died needlessly.”

For additional shared memories of the what has become known as simply 9/11, see the related story on page A4 of today’s Daily News.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email

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