8:47 a.m., September 11, 2001. The first of a premeditated series of attacks against the United States of America took place as a hijacked commercial airplane was flown directly into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Fifteen minutes later, a second hijacked airplane was similarly flown into the South Tower. A third plane had been overtaken by terrorist and flown into the Pentagon. In the skies over Ohio, a fourth airplane was hijacked and was headed towards Washington D.C. when the passengers heroically fought back, took the flight control away from the hijackers, and crashed the plane into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
From within the catastrophically damaged buildings of the World Trade Center, thousands of people from many nations struggled to escape the withering towers and reach safety. While these thousands of men and women pushed toward the exits, they were met by hundreds going into and up towards the inferno which was raging overhead. These brave souls were members of the New York Fire Department, Police Department, and the Port Authority Police. They brought with them air packs, tools, radios, and in many cases just the badge pinned to their shirts. One item they all carried was a duty to protect and serve, and with that, the faith that binds the brothers and sisters of the protective services.
In just over an hour, both 110 story towers collapsed, severely damaging several other buildings around them, many of which later fell. This left a debris field of unimaginable proportions. Then began a search for survivors and a recovery effort, the enormity of which has never been undertaken before. Members of these three organizations conducted a search through “The Pile,” which lasted for many months in an effort to bring home as many of their brothers and sisters as was humanly possible.
This attack on America took the lives of over 3,000 people. Of this number, 343 were members of FDNY, 23 were members of NYPD, and 37 were members of the PAPD.
Today, September 13, 2002, we are honorarily inducting into the State of Wisconsin Fire and Police Hall of Fame, the members of these three organizations who selflessly and bravely responded to the World Trade Center site in both the initial rescue and the subsequent recovery effort.