Patriot Flag flies in Albany

Photo by Joe Bellacomo

Photo by Joe Bellacomo

ALBANY,Ga. -- A 60-by-30-foot, 60-pound Patriot Flag flew from a raised fire-truck ladder at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in memory of those lost to the terrorist attack on 9/11.

"This has got to be the biggest symbol of freedom I have seen," said Billy Hembree, an Albany resident. "It is just beautiful and it has to be an honor for the city of Albany."

The Patriot flag came to Albany, its only stop in the state, courtesy American Legion Post 30, said Marvin Mixon, a ceremony organizer.

The flag is to be flown in at least one city in every state before being flown at the World Trade Center during the 10th anniversary of the attack Sept. 11, 2011.

Speakers at the event included Ray Humphrey, commander Post 30; Willie Adams, Albany mayor; Marine Col. Terry V. Williams, commander Marine Corps Logistic Base-Albany, and others.

Perhaps the most moving of speakers was himself a first responder, a brother to those who ran toward the flames after the attack in New York, Fire Chief James Carswell.

"The others here today may talk about how the events of September 11, 2001 affected their lives, their organization and our country," Carswell said. "I would focus my time at the podium on the 343 New York Fire Department firefighters who died that day doing what I believe is the greatest job in the country."

Carswell outlined what he thought would be a typical start to the firefighters shift on that fateful day based on his experience. He imagined the day started like any other day, with roll call, jokes and equipment checks.

At 8:47 a.m. on September 11, 2001 the ordinary day changed. Carswell read the dispatcher's radio calls and the answers from the firefighters from that day.

"Battalion one: We just had airplane crashed into an upper floor of the World Trade Center. Transmit a second alarm and start relocating companies to the area.

"Engine Six: The World Trade Center -tower number one is on fire. The whole outside of the building. There was just a huge explosion."

The drama began. Carswell said that at about 9 a.m. a firefighter came to him and said a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

The firefighters in Albany watched news reports and thought about how they would approach the fire if it were here.

At 9: 59 a.m. the South Tower collapsed.

"Our thoughts went to the firefighters and where they would have been at that time," Carswell said. "They would have been spread out on every floor trying to get everyone out of the building."

At 10:28 a.m. the North Tower fell.

"We sat stunned as many of you did that day," Carswell said. "For firefighters across this country, the actions of the 343 New York Fire Department firefighters who lost their lives that day and all the others who had placed themselves in harm's way exemplified what it means to be a firefighter.

"The New York Fire department conducted themselves on 9/11 with honor, a level of professionalism we all strive to live up to and a sense of duty to the service of their fellow man without regard to their own safety."