An annual event this weekend remembering the sacrifices of the 9/11 terror attacks is changing its focus to emphasize a ceremony at the U.S.-Canada border instead of its traditional Interstate 5 caravan of emergency vehicles through Whatcom County.
“There’s still going to be a ride on the Canadian side,” said Division Chief Henry Hollander of North Whatcom Fire & Rescue, who also is a 9/11 Memorial committee member. “Our objective was to put on a nice event, and we just didn’t have the people to do both.”
Five members of New York City emergency services agencies – who served at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers of the World Trade center in lower Manhattan – will attend the free ceremony at 10 a.m. at Peace Arch State Park, which straddles the border. A Discover Pass or $10 day-use fee is required for park admission.
A fundraising barbecue will be from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at 3125 Thorton Road, Ferndale, with games, a barbecue, beer and live music. Admission is $50, but fewer than 20 advance tickets remained Friday afternoon, Sept. 9, and the event likely will sell out, Hollander said.
Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan will speak at the free Sunday event, which marks the terror attacks’ 15th anniversary.
During the ceremony, four fire department ladder trucks will display the American and Canadian flags from their extended booms. American and Canadian authorities will be wearing dress uniforms.
“Most law enforcement and fire agencies in Whatcom County typically send representatives,” Hollander said. The ride and border ceremony have been a tradition for about 10 years, he added.
Hollander said the proceeds from the barbecue benefit the Behind the Badge Foundation in the U.S., which aids the families of law officers who are injured or slain, and a Canadian charity called Honour House, which serves injured and ailing police officers, firefighters and emergency services workers.
Guests this year are Matthew Zimpfer, FDNY Ladder 27; Robert Abril, FDNY paramedic; Efrain Morales Jr., NYPD; Robin Crucey, NYPD; and Sgt. Antonio Ortiz, NYPD.
Some 343 New York firefighters and 71 NYPD and Port Authority police officers died that day, which was the deadliest terror attack in world history. In all, 2,996 people were killed and 6,000 injured in New York, at the Pentagon, and in the crash of American Airlines Flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania. Ladder 27’s crew lost one firefighter in the collapse of the South Tower. It shares a South Bronx station house with Engine 46 and is known as the “Cross-Bronx Express.”
Hollander said the five guests from New York will be staying at the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine and will cross Blaine Harbor on the historic Plover foot ferry.
This story was updated Sept. 9 to reflect that the 9/11 ceremony is free and starts at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept.11, to correct the date and location of the barbecue, and to clarify that Peace Arch requires a day-use fee.