September 11, 2001 is still fresh in the minds of the members of the Eaton Rapids Fire Department. With each anniversary of that date they remember their brotherhood of 343 firefighters, 60 law enforcement officers, eight EMT’s and paramedics and almost 3,000 civilians who were lost, using their fire equipment as a symbolic gesture of respect and remembrance.
The ERFD aerial platform ladder truck sits in front of the department building on Line Street with its ladder extended 30 feet or so, holding the American flag. In front of it stands a flagpole with a second flag flying at half-mast. An addition to the annual display this year is a quotation on the Public Safety message board from Elmer Davis (1890–1958), a news reporter, author, the Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II and a Peabody Award recipient. “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
“Everyone says don’t forget 9-11. The firefighters probably never will,” said Fire Chief Roger McNutt. “Everyday we still relate to the incident. One of our firefighters, Kevin Towsley, even went to Ground Zero for two weeks back then, helping dig through the rubble.”
Linda McNutt, the wife and mother of firefighters, still feels the heartbreak of the event, she said, and the display brings back a lot of memories.
“If something happened there, it could happen here,” she said. “Every time the tone drops, I hold my breath till they come home. The idea of losing two—I just couldn’t take it.”
Hamlin Township Fire Rescue on Clinton Trail has also set up a similar memorial at their Fire Station. They remind us on their Facebook page: “Tonight as you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.”