Robert Singletary President of the Ga. Assoc. of Fire Chiefs
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
Firefighters say they are a brotherhood. So it's an emotional day at the Georgia Fire and Emergency Services Conference in Albany as hundreds of firefighters and fire chiefs remember comrades lost on 9/11.
More than 340 of their brothers died in the Twin Towers 12 years ago. Many of the older first responders say they use the tragedy to teach new firefighters the traditions of the service.
"You've got some kids that were 8 or 9 years old that are now firefighters, in the fire service. And they maybe don't remember much about it. So we are trying to keep that alive. We want to keep the memory of those 343 that passed away alive in the fire service around the country," said Robert Singletary President of the Ga. Assoc. of Fire Chiefs.
The Albany Fire Department will host a 9/11 memorial ceremony downtown tonight. It will open with bagpipes played by a Lee County man with strong emotional ties to 9/11. He was stationed at the Pentagon at the time of the attacks, and his father and grandfather were both firefighters.
Dan Gillan is a bagpiper, and also a retired Marine Lt. Colonel. When he was asked to play at State Firefighter Conference 9/11 memorial, it was something meaningful to his entire life.
He knows his instrument is made for these occasions. "It draws at your heart. And that's what 9/11 is to me. It's drawing at our hearts so that we never forget."
The firefighter tie to the 9/11 ceremony speaks to Gillan's life story. His father and grandfather were firefighters. His father, Martin Gillan, died fighting a fire in Maywood Illinois in January 1972.
Gillan was a Marine stationed at the Pentagon on 9/11. "I was not in the building at the time. I know people who were. Know people that were injured, know people that were absolutely heroes that day rendering aid in the parking lot."
Gillan served three deployments to Iraq. Now retired, Gillan says he is honored to play his bagpipes, which he says will be emotional to him. "Every time I play my pipes I think about my Dad. My family. I think about the Marines I served with over the years."
A special ceremony, for a retired Marine, playing in honor of his family, comrades, and country. Gillan hopes these memorial ceremonies continue to be held every year on September 11th, so the nation never forgets the terror attacks that killed so many men and women, and the heroic efforts of first responders that lost their lives that day.
The 9/11 memorial ceremony for the Firefighters Conference will begin at Veteran's Park in Albany at 6:30.