Pancakes and patriotism; Fire department to exhibit 9/11 apparatus

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, December 15, 2012

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Christmas and patriotic spirit will run high at a traditional holiday event at the Decatur Fire Hall this weekend.

The Decatur Fire Department, in conjunction with the Grapevine Fire Department, will display the Remembrance Rescue Project 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday during the department’s seventh-annual pancake breakfast.

The mobile memorial features one of the rescue trucks that responded to the World Trade Center towers after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It’s absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime thing to actually get this here,” said Decatur Fire Marshal Deroy Bennett. “You can’t sit in it. You can’t get in it. It’s truly a rolling memorial to the guys that died doing their job. Pretty cool that we’re getting it.”

A group of firefighters created Remembrance Rescue Project to restore and preserve two Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) trucks. Rescue 5 is operated out of the Project’s Chicago facility and travels throughout the Eastern states, while Rescue 4 operates out of Colorado to the Western states.

Firefighters across the country volunteer their time to coordinate the display as an educational tool of the largest tragedy in modern American history, a historical artifact of the great sacrifice of the FDNY, and a memorial to those lost on 9/11 as well as all the firefighters killed in the line of duty every year, the Project’s website said.

“9/11 is the one event that occurred in my lifetime in the United States where many people and many firefighters lost their lives at one single time,” Bennett said. “I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard. It’s a part of history engraved into many of us. For us, this is a touching memorial.

“But it is also used as an educational exhibit for the kids that were too young to understand what was going on.”

There are no paid members within the Project, and it is not an FDNY operation. It is a “national campaign for 9/11 education and remembrance.”

Volunteers completed Rescue 4’s restoration work in September 2011. In the Project’s first 12 months, the Rescue was a part of various community events with an estimated combined attendance of 900,000. That December, the Project acquired the last of the Rescue trucks from 9/11, Rescue 5. Rescue 5 was brought to the Project’s Chicago facility, where its restoration was completed in April of 2012.

Donations are used for fuel, maintenance and travel costs for the Rescues. To help fund the project, T-shirts are sold at each stop, including Decatur on Saturday morning.

“It’s touching to have this piece of equipment that sat in front of those towers as they fell,” Bennett said. “And to think about the fact that the last people to step off of this truck lost their lives – it’s heartwrenching.”

For more information on the traveling memorial, visit

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