By Jolie Shultz
Staff writer

It’s been 22 years since the horrifying and devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. According to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the attacks left 2,977 dead across New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

That total includes 343 firefighters.

For the last five years, the Hutchinson Community College Fire Science program has been ensuring that its students remember and honor those 343 firefighters who gave their lives in an attempt to save lives.

The ceremony began at 7:46 a.m., which, in New York, is 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the first World Trade Center.

During the ceremony, bunker gear, containing a helmet, jacket, and pair of boots, is placed at the base of a flag that flies at half mast. This gear symbolizes the “Missing Man”.

Braden Burdett, Zane McGuffy, and Carter Kaus had the honor of presenting the gear that symbolizes the “Missing Man” at this year’s ceremony.

“It’s a memorial to honor and recognize the fallen firefighters, and ourselves in the fire sciences as well,” said Austin Warren, a sophomore in HutchCC’s Fire Science program.

“There’s a lot of falls and loss in it (the job of firefighting) so we have to make sure we honor the ones who do fall,” sophomore Brylea German said.

German had the honor of lowering the flag to half mast this year.

“We don’t want people to forget, that’s the big thing,” said Mike McCandless, the Fire Science Coordinator for HutchCC.

With the new classes of fire science students coming up, almost all weren’t even born during the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s important to instill in them the impact that this has had on the fire service,” said Jeff Deal, a professor for the Fire Science program.

In his closing remarks, Deal spoke about the risks firefighters understand they take when they start their job.

“Twenty-two years ago, the mark of a good firefighter was, were you willing to risk a lot, to save a lot,” Deal said. “I can guarantee you, those 343 that went up those stairs, they knew they weren’t going home that day.

Deal then asked his students, “Are you prepared to run in, when the only reason you do it is because it’s the right thing to do?

“It’s a hell of a sacrifice.”

And it’s a sacrifice that the United States, nor HutchCC, will soon forget.

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