Bozeman 9/11 ceremony

Law enforcement, firefighters, veterans and others gathered in the American Legion in Bozeman to honor lives lost on Sept. 11.

Those old enough remember where they stood 18 years ago when they heard hijackers were flying planes into buildings in the largest terror attack on U.S. soil, Bozeman Fire Chief Josh Waldo told a small crowd Wednesday.

“We haven’t forgotten,” Waldo said.

Law enforcement officers, firefighters, veterans and others gathered in the American Legion as it rained outside to honor the first responders who went into burning buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who continue to risk their lives.

They remembered the 2,977 people killed in the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a field in Pennsylvania.

Randy Kemp with the American Legion Post 14 said it’s the 10th year the organization has gathered on the anniversary.

“We have to memorialize those who passed away and gave their life for this country,” Kemp said. “It was 18 years ago; some people in this room may not have been born.”

Speeches began at 9:03 a.m., when the first hijacked plane crashed into the south tower.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Chaplain Randy Jones said first responders prevented the day’s death toll from getting even larger. He said they acted on a saying many in the field are familiar with: “Risk a lot to save a lot,” Jones said.

Of those who died that day, 343 were New York City firefighters, 37 were officers at the Port Authority and 23 were New York City police officers.

Jones said many continue to live with the aftermath.

That includes those who lost someone on Sept. 11, those who have died in the wars that followed, and the thousands in lower Manhattan who were exposed to toxic fumes from the destroyed towers.

Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford said while the day is somber, gathering and remembering those who have served and continue to in some way makes them stronger.

“Thank a vet for your freedom and a first responder for your safety,” Crawford said.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brain Gootkin said while fear filled most of the day, it ended with many feeling proud of their nation. He said that feeling of unity should continue.

People in the room sang “God Bless America” before heading outside for a line of Legion members to fire blanks in a seven rifle, three-round salute for those lost.

But first, Chaplain Jones returned to the front of the room and asked God to watch over Gallatin County responders.

“So they too will be willing to risk a lot to save a lot,” he said.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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