Originally published on September 11th, 2021

Today is a day of remembrance, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

On this day in 2001, two passenger airplanes were hijacked, and flown into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York. Less than two hours after the initial crash, both towers had collapsed, having taken too much structural damage.

Elsewhere, a third plane was hijacked, and crashed into the west side of the Pentagon military building in Washington D.C. While this also lead to a structural collapse, only a portion of the building fell. At the time, the building was under partial renovations, which resulted in many empty offices, and fewer casualties. When the building was repaired, a small, indoor memorial and chapel were added at the point of impact.

A fourth plane was also hijacked that day. While the passengers on board attempted to take the plane back, it ended up crashing in a field in Pennsylvania. The intended target of this plane remains unknown.

In total, these four hijackings caused the deaths of 2,977 people, with upwards of 25,000 additional who suffered non-fatal injuries.

Many remember the heroism and bravery that was displayed by thousands of first responders that day and many hearts are still heavy with sorrow thinking of those who were lost on this day 20 years ago.

Todd Schimpf is the Fire Chief with the Leader Fire Department and although he, along with many others, have not experienced a tragedy of that magnitude, he said having been in situations where there have been fatalities evokes a certain emotion when memories of 9/11 surface. 

"People and fire fighters who have gone through scenarios where there is a loss of life, you definitely have a heavy heart when you think of or see other first responders going through other tragedies, although this [what happened on 9/11] is beyond what most people could even fathom or think about," said Schimpf.

Schimpf, who has been a fire fighter for the last 18 years and the Fire Chief for the last five years, shares that it takes a certain type of person to put their safety at risk to save another.

"It takes special people to go out and do this kind of job and even when you're not members, we've gone as farmers and helped with other people that have had fires. Even if you're not with your own department, you go and help, it's just what we do".

As we look back at this day in history, also take a moment to recognize and honour all of the first responders in the west central region who selflessly put themselves in harms way to save those around them. 

Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the families of those who were lost on this day 20 years ago, and to those who survived.