Dozens of people went out into the drizzle to witness a Patriot Day ceremony at the Littleton Center on the morning of Sept. 11, to watch the color guard raise the American flag, to stand proud as veterans offered a 21-gun salute, to listen as the solemn strains of “Taps” played on, to pray for peace, to thank the heroes.
“Everyone who wears a badge, takes an oath, lives to protect, to heal, to help, to run to danger when others run from it — we all pride ourselves on our willingness to run into those towers, to run into that burning building, to run into the school where shots are being fired, to run into situations we may not ever run out of,” said Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens. “It’s what we believe, it’s what we do, it’s what we are. On that day, 411 of our brothers and sisters stepped up and did what we all would have done, what we all would do today, what we are all willing to do tomorrow. They served, they protected, they gave their lives.”
Fire Chief John Mullin led his last bell-ringing ceremony as a member of Littleton Fire Rescue, as he’s retiring next April. He explained that bells have always been the symbol of the fire department, used to communicate before Twitter or even telephones, and to bring comfort to those awaiting help.
“When they heard that bell, they knew help was on the way and they would soon be in comforting hands,” he said. When the fire was out and the firefighters were home, they rang three sets of five rings. Mullin chimed that signal in honor of the 9/11 victims and soldiers who have died fighting the wars since.
“Your work is over, a job well done,” he said. “Welcome home.”
Stephens ended his comments by looking to the future.
“Today, Patriot’s Day, we remember,” he said. “We remember the 3,000 who died. We remember the 411. We remember the sorrow, the pain, the pride. But today, we also celebrate. We celebrate our resilience, our ability to take a hit and come back stronger, more determined than ever to stand up, to face any challenge, to defend, to protect, to serve.”