Yesterday flags at the Coos Bay fire stations flew at half-staff, as they did all across the country, to commemorate the 343 firefighters who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers in 2001.
Sixteen years after the attack, Coos Bay Fire Chief Mark Anderson remembers the tragedy, “I was taking a class up in Monmouth when I heard about the attack. As a lot of people have said before, I was in complete disbelief and shock when I heard the news.”
In front of the Coos Bay Fire Administration building there is a piece of debris from the Twin towers that sits as a reminder of that tragic day.
The 118 pound piece of the World Trade Center was donated to the city of Coos Bay in 2011. It’s one of 1,200 pieces of debris that were donated to communities across the country by the Port Authority in New York and New Jersey.
“It’s a constant reminder, and a very visual reminder of the sacrifices that were made that day. I’ve never been to New York City, but I have been to other large cities like Portland and Chicago, and I can just imagine all of the destruction caused by a building of that size coming down,” Anderson said.
On a local level, the debris also reminds Anderson of Coos Bay’s own tragic fire in November 2002. Three firefighters were killed trying to put out a fire at an auto body shop when the building collapsed. Since then a memorial statue has been erected to convey the significance of their sacrifice, and the sacrifices of all firefighters lost in the line of duty.
“This is something we choose to do, but it’s really no more important than a school teacher,” Anderson said in reference to being a firefighter.