Jacksonville remembers fallen heroes of 9/11

CAMP JOHNSON, N.C. (WNCT) – As many across the country honor the lives lost on 9/11, folks in Jacksonville remember that day like it was yesterday.

Friday, the military community of Jacksonville came together to not only remember our fallen heroes from 9/11 fourteen years ago, but also those who died in the fight against terror, something they say they know all too well.

Hundreds of first responders, military personnel and members of the community came out to Camp Johnson’s steel beam memorial dedicated to 9/11 victims.

For those in Jacksonville, many folks in the community have lost loved ones that died that day or while fighting in the war on terror.

For Thomas Smith, he lost his father.

“It’s hard around this time of year, but family, friends, events like this memorials kind of help you get through the day,” said Thomas Smith, Atlantic Beach firefighter.

Smith’s father was a 23 year career firefighter with Squad 280 Hazmat out of Queens.

His father was on the 11th floor of Tower 1 when it came down and that day his father’s unit lost the single most amount of men out of any department in New York. 19 out of 23 died that day in his unit.

To this day, his father’s remains have never been found, which is why the City of Jacksonville thought it was appropriate to honor his life, as well as many others.

“It’s about those who were involved that day or those whose lives were affected forever because of that day,” said Don Herring, Onslow Civic Affairs chairman.

Smith went on to follow in his father’s footsteps of firefighting and held his picture up at Friday’s memorial ceremony, something he says he will always remember.

“Proud, honorable,” said Smith. “It’s nice to live on the same thing my father did.”

The Civic Affairs Committee says we must remember the past if we are going to survive the future. They pledge to ensure younger generations will forever remember this day in history.

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