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University Park Fire Department honors emergency personnel who died in the 9/11 attacks.

As the bagpipes gently played and the United States flag fluttered in the early morning breeze, the University Park Fire Department paid tribute on Friday to those who died during the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

The observance included the posting of the colors, the ringing of the fire department’s bell, and speeches by Fire Chief Randy Howell, Chaplain Nelson Bell, and State Representative Dan Branch (R-Tex).

Battalion Chief Rusty Massey has been a firefighter for 19 years, and a part of the University Park Fire Department since 1999.  While he did not personally know anyone who died in 9/11, he said the ceremony pays tribute to the firefighter “brotherhood.”

“The fire service is pretty rich in tradition and with the risk that is involved with our jobs, it’s not just anybody who would do what those guys did that day,” said Massey.

411 emergency workers died while trying to carry out fire and rescue efforts at the World Trade Center. During the ceremony, a fire official rang the University Park Fire Department’s bell to symbolize the number of lost emergency personnel. Massey, a native of Terrell, Texas, hopes the event will keep the memory of those who died “alive.”

“…. to have a big plane crash into a building like that and then run in there and try to help everybody as others are running out and then they got caught up in it like they did, it was just unimaginable, so it’s pretty involved with that we do.  It’s an on-going deal, no matter where you’re from, it’s just a way that we’re remembering them,” said Massey.

Almost everyone can remember “where they were” when they first heard that the Twin Towers were hit and it was no different for Revered Bell and Representative Branch. Both shared their stories about how they found out about the attacks during the Friday morning ceremony.

Massey easily recalls that morning as well. He had just finished his shift at the fire department and by the time he got home, the first tower had been hit. He started watching the news. Panic and uncertainty ran rampant that day, and Massey said he immediately started receiving phone calls from family members.

“That morning I had just gotten off work and they were all calling and there were rumors out there that there were planes headed for Dallas and a plane headed here and there and nobody knew anything really.  I just said, ‘I’m at home, I’m fine, what comes after this I don’t know but if anything happens in the Dallas area, I’m sure we’ll be involved,’” Massey said.

And while no terrorist attacks occurred in Dallas on September 11th, that doesn’t stop Massey or other emergency officials from honoring those who did die in the line of duty.  Massey, who played the bass drum during Friday’s ceremony, is already learning to play the bagpipes for next year’s event.

“We’re honoring 9/11 every year and just trying to keep what they did and their memory and keep that going,” Massey said.

-Article by Courtnee Lowe

Sarah Griffith is Executive Editor of BubbleLife.com, an Advice Interactive Group product. She’s worked with BubbleLife since 2011, transitioning to Advice during BubbleLife’s acquisition in 2017. Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism-Public Relations from Baylor University and has a passion for all things related to content. She has formerly served in multiple roles at BubbleLife, including Digital Marketing Consultant, Account Executive, Business Editor, and Neighborhood Editor, helping expand the company from eight community websites in Dallas-Fort Worth to more than 250 nationwide. When out of the office, Sarah can typically be found listening to live music and engaging in a never-ending hunt for the best queso in Dallas. - Contact Sarah at  
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