Flanders Fire Department marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with solemn ceremonies at Fireman's Park. Photo: Alek Lewis

The Flanders Fire Department marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during a ceremony at Fireman’s Park on Flanders Road Saturday morning.

During the ceremony, firefighter and chaplain Jael Bjerkaas recounted the events of the terrorist attacks to the crowd. A bell was rung followed by a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m., the times that airplanes struck the two towers of the World Trade Center, to honor the people who died during the attacks. 

Bjerkaas also spoke of the firefighters and first responders who had survived the attacks but have suffered from or succumbed to illnesses because of the toxic environment they worked in at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attack.

The Sept. 11 memorial in Fireman’s Park includes two pieces of steel from the fallen Twin Towers. Photo: Alek Lewis

Firefighter Christopher Doscinski recited the fireman’s prayer during the ceremony. He said that the cross he recited the prayer from was given to him by the recently deceased ex-chief and ex-commissioner Frank Belson, who was part of the Flanders Fire Department crew that went to New York City after the attack.

A wreath was laid at the park’s World Trade Center memorial, which includes two pieces of steel from the fallen towers. They also listened to the song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson, written about the Sept. 11 attacks. 

“The thing I’ve always appreciated about that song is it’s not just a remote reminder of what happened, but he really calls into question our response to what we saw and what we felt,” Bjerkaas said.

After ringing the bell and starting the sirens, the ceremony ended with the playing of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes by East Quogue Fire Department Captain Sean Murphy.

The ceremony concluded with “Amazing Grace,” performed by East Quogue Fire Department Capt. Sean Murphy. Photo: Alek Lewis

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]