9/11: No, we don’t forget

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Lt. Col. Chris Liermann, U.S. Army and Hayden Veterans Commission member, gives a speech on Monday at Hayden's Sept. 11 commemoration ceremony.

HAYDEN — Chris Liermann will never forget when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

That's because Steve Long, an Army commander who sent Liermann to Fort Riley, Kan., to be stationed, was among 189 who died during the tragedy.

"Evidence points to Steve and another officer moving about — more than likely attempting to save people — a thankless act in the face of horrific smoke and fire," Liermann told about 70 people attending a 9/11 anniversary ceremony at Hayden City Hall on Monday morning.

"(Long was) a true soldier's soldier. When most people run away from the fire, he ran toward it."

Long was asked to be at the Pentagon that day to brief generals about Army business.

"When American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 530 mph, the force of the crash was so powerful that it obliterated 400,000 square feet of office space," said Liermann, now a local financial adviser. "There are countless stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things on that day. Steve is a tragic member of one of those stories, a real pro and my friend."

Liermann encouraged attendees to remember the sacrifices of the 2,996 people who were killed and more than 6,000 others wounded during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Please remember, despite all of the differences we see in our country today, most of us will go home, have dinner with our families and kiss our kids goodnight," he said. "That's what matters."

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger, who also spoke during the ceremony, said it seemed fitting the trial for Jonathan Renfro, the man accused of killing Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore in 2015, started on Monday on 9/11.

"On May 5, 2015, the war that began on Sept. 11 against our society came home," Wolfinger said. "On that day our sadness and outrage had a name and face that we did not know. We mourn our fallen military men and women, but we further mourn those who are murdered, not in traditional war, but while doing their job, protecting the way of life that we embrace."

Wolfinger called Sept. 11, 2001, the "second day of infamy."

"I am sure that President Roosevelt (during his speech on the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor) could not envision that another such day would occur a mere 60 years later," he said. "Most of the targets were business people and first responders, clerks and cops, brokers and firefighters. The people who were victimized on this second day of infamy were people like you and me and the people we rely on daily to help us and protect us here at home."

Wolfinger said it's comforting to know both the nation and this community rally after tragedies and do not succumb to defeat.

"This community has shown that we rally and support those who put their life on the line every day," he said.

Northern Lakes Fire District Chief Pat Riley said while firefighters' tactics to save lives and protect property have changed, their mission hasn't.

"We stand ready to help somebody in the most dire time of need," he said. "We are eternally grateful for the service of our 343 brothers and sisters lost (during 9/11) and we will never forget."

Hayden Mayor Steve Griffitts said he's thankful for the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I am grateful that we can take a moment today to honor those who honored us by their dedication," he said. "May we honor them in the manner in which we live our lives."

Coeur d'Alene's Dolores Johnson took time from cleaning her home to attend her first 9/11 ceremony after reading about it in The Press.

"With all the devastation going on around us, I wanted to pay respects," she said. "This day is vivid in my memory. It is still unreal about how it happened."

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