Area emergency responders and a local sports team will remember the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, with commemorative activities Friday.
The Nikiski Fire Department has planted 343 flags — one for each of the firefighters who fell on Sept. 11 — in the lawn at both of the department’s fire stations since 2007, said Public Information Officer Bud Sexton.
“In the firefighting world we’re all one big community,” he said. “We’re all affected when a life is lost because it hits home for us.”
The public is invited to both stations to view the flags and take a moment to remember the firefighters, Sexton said. Planting the flags is the least the Nikiski Fire Department can do to keep the memory of lost firefighters alive, he said.
“For us, it’s really just (about) keeping things fresh in our minds,” Sexton said. “The families that went through the loss, they’re still experiencing it.”
Sexton said the visual of hundreds of flags to represent lost lives helps put the events of Sept. 11 into perspective for people. Fire equipment will also be on display.
The Kenai River Brown Bears hockey team will also celebrate area emergency responders before their home game at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Friday. Head Coach Geoff Beauparlant, whose own wife served in the U.S. Army for 10 years, said between 10-15 members from area agencies have confirmed their attendance. They will be honored with the puck drop and the national anthem during an opening ceremony.
Those honored will include responders from the Kenai Police and Fire Departments, the Nikiski Fire Department, Central Emergency Services and more, Beauparlant said.
“I just think they do so much for our communities that goes unnoticed,” he said. “It’s important that we remember that they put their lives on the line every day for us. When you have that opportunity to thank them, it’s just such a small piece but I think it goes a long way.”
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.