The Goodyear fire and police departments are hosting a 9/11 virtual flag-raising ceremony at their newest fire station at 8:30 a.m. on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The memorial will be livestreamed on the Goodyear Fire Facebook page @goodyearfire.
This flag-raising ceremony has been an annual event for the Goodyear community since 2009. The past couple of years the service has taken place virtually due to the pandemic.
“Despite the pandemic, we still wanted to have some type of an event that honored those who passed away on 9/11,” Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi said.
Although Luizzi wasn’t there during the 9/11 attacks, he still has a vivid memory of the event.
Luizzi was working as a firefighter in Massachusetts during the time of the 9/11 attacks. He was at the gym when he saw the first plane crash into one of the buildings.
“I remember walking by one of the TVs, and I saw that there was smoke coming from a building in New York,” he said. “Later, I happened to be walking by that same TV and saw the second plane fly into another building. After the second tower I thought ‘Oh, my God, we’re under attack.’”
When Luizzi got home, he and his wife watched the news for the rest of the day.
“There was just a level of uneasiness, and even going to bed that night I thought ‘What’s going to happen overnight?’” Luizzi described the moment as “a very surreal moment and one I don’t think that I’ll ever forget.”
Luizzi recalled what happened to some of his family and friends during the time of the attacks as well. “My cousin is an FBI agent,” Luizzi said. “He was stationed in Manhattan at the time.” Fortunately, Luizzi contacted his cousin and found out he was off that day. The night of the attacks, Luizzi’s cousin went to the scene to help, but was safe.
Some of Luizzi’s other friends had different, more tragic fates. A physician who Luizzi worked with at the time had a son in Manhattan when the attacks occurred. The physician hadn’t heard from his son during or after the attacks, and eventually they found out that he died as a result.
Luizzi said he believes while the attacks were tragic, it brought the police and firefighter community closer.
“Prior to 9/11, it was very rare for a fire department to come up on a police radio and either ask for instructions or ask for help,” he said. “But now it’s so common.”
While the attacks brought the nation together, it also brought together people from other countries.
After 9/11, planes had to be diverted, and one of them was forced to land in Gander, a small fishing town in Newfoundland. When this plane landed, the locals helped the passengers. The community provided their guests with hotel rooms and even invited them into their homes.
When the passengers left, they pitched financially to create the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship for the families who helped them. This award started with $15,000 and has accrued nearly $2 million.
“It’s amazing when a community really wants to do something, and they have one goal in mind, what they can do,” Luizzi said. “You can positively impact your community. It only takes one person’s idea, and building on that can be really amazing.”