By Chris Stone
New York firefighter Jonathan Henderson was on duty Sept. 11, 2001. He spent weeks on the World Trade Center pile as part of the recovery crew.
But despite the sadness that stays with him every day, he remembers the solidarity afterward just as strongly.
“Even when the most terrible things happen, people shine,” the 48-year-old Henderson said. “That’s what happened after this. People rose above it.”
Henderson was one of several FDNY retirees who gathered on the USS Midway flight deck Friday morning to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon.
The 80-minute ceremony, closed to the public due to the pandemic, was organized by The FDNY Retirees of San Diego, along with the National City Fire Department, San Diego Fire-Rescue with the help of the USS Midway Museum.
Members read names of fallen firemen on that tragic day. American Airlines representatives recited names of airline staff that died on four planes that hijacked. Deceased New York Port Authority members were also remembered.
Border Patrol agents presented the colors and the Emerald Society Pipe and Drums played “Amazing Grace.”
A Harbor Police fireboat water tribute, 21-gun salute and playing of taps concluded the ceremony, which was livestreamed on Facebook.
“I was on duty that day, so I lost a lot of friends, friends that went into the buildings to save people they didn’t know,” said Henderson, who now lives in San Diego. “The event was a great disaster and a horrible thing that happened, but at the save time it was the greatest rescue in history.
The retired fireman said.“More people were saved than ever before,” “So to remember the heroes is important.”
Like many involved with rescue and recovery at the site of the Twin Towers, Henderson said he deals with health issues.
“Pretty much anyone who spend any time down there is still feeling it,” said the 17-year veteran of FDNY.
Several people killed in the World Trade Center towers or on the American Airlines flights in the Sept. 11 attacks were San Diego county residents.
Local residents lost that day included Tim Ward of San Diego, pilot Thomas McGuiness, electrical engineer Robert Penninger, La Jolla High School alumnus Brent Woodall, Deora Bodley of Mira Mesa, Brian Sweeney of Pacific Beach resident, Tim Ward of La Mesa and stock trader Brent Woodall, son of a La Jolla couple.
Of that day in September when nearly 3,000 died, Henderson said: “I never forget because every day I remember. It’s part of my life.
“But I realize that most of the world didn’t have the same experience that I did. So things like this, on this date especially, you want to remember.”
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