It was 16 years ago when two hijacked planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City. Nearly 3,000 people died on Sept. 11, 2001. Hundreds of those killed were firefighters, paramedics and police officers.
As Americans, this day means a lot to all of us, but it's especially important to first our responders.
"It's a time to stop and think," said Thomas Pechal, spokesperson for Temple Fire and Rescue. "These were moms and dads and brothers and sisters, these were family members. And for them, for their families, life has never been the same."
"It's a day to be able to remember those that gave their lives and the ultimate sacrifice. Something that we all know is a possibility for us when we sign up and take the responsibilities of the job," said Ben Williams, a firefighter with Temple Fire and Rescue.
Williams was a sophomore in high school when he witnessed the event unfold before his eyes.
"We were told over the intercom system at school that one of the planes had crashed into the towers," said Williams. "That's when the TV's went on in every class and we actually witnessed, over the TV, the second plane."
It takes a special person to do this type of work.
"It's a little nerve wracking sometimes, but the adrenaline usually takes over and you have a job in front of you that you have to take care of and that's what we're focused on," said Williams.
Williams was left shaken by the tragedy, but it didn't change his future plans to follow in the footsteps of the fallen first responders.
"It just kind of drew me in, just called me. Now I'm here and I've enjoyed every minute of it," said Williams.
Risking it all, so that others may live.
Temple Fire and Rescue also held a memorial service early Monday morning. It included opening remarks from the fire chief, ringing of the bell and moment of silence. There was also a short reflection period and timeline of Sept. 11, 2001.
The ringing of the bell is a fire department custom which commemorates a death in the line of duty. Monday morning's service honored those who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
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