On Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks were perpetrated against the United States of America. This was the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in our history with 343 and 72 killed, respectively. 

On that day in 2001, a solemn tradition was begun here in South Burlington. That evening at Overlook Park, South Burlington Fire Department Capt. Gary Rounds and his fellow firefighters put together an impromptu candlelight remembrance gathering to pay tribute to those firefighters and police officers who had paid the ultimate sacrifice. Even though the official loss tally had yet to be totaled, the assembly needed to take place. You see, it wasn’t about the numbers, it was about the commitment to purpose.

Each year since, Capt. Rounds and South Burlington Fire Department were at Overlook Park to remember. A few people might show up, a lot might show up. It could be sunny or rainy. Again, it’s not about numbers, it’s about the commitment to purpose.

Last year, due to their ever-increasing call and incident volumes (and the retirement of Captain Rounds) the South Burlington Fire Department couldn’t devote the necessary time and resources to adequately sponsor and manage this get-together. Because of this, on Sept. 11, 2018, there was no official public gathering. But, it still happened. You see, it’s not about official or un-official, it’s about commitment to purpose.

This July, three former members of the fire department met with Chief Terry Francis to ask for his blessing and assistance in the formation of a “past members group.” This group would keep a notification list for various department functions such as dinners and sad events like funerals. Lastly, this group felt very strongly about the Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony, and told Chief Francis that the group would coordinate the annual event to make sure it happens each and every year.

You see, it’s not about present member or former member, it’s about the commitment to purpose.

We invite everyone to Overlook Park on Sept. 11, 2019, at 7 p.m. for the South Burlington 9/11 remembrance ceremony. 

Robert Wheel

South Burlington

(1) comment


I go down to new york city quite often because i have family who lives to to far from the city in pawling new york 2 hours from the city.So i knew some of the fdny firefighters and police officers who were killed on that day i watched in horror on that day as my friends from many of the firehouses in the city and police officer i got to know in the police precincts in the city were killed on that day these police officers and firefighters that i go to know we became best friends over the years before 9-11 and i miss the everyday it not the same now going down to the city and not seeing them and going for lunch or out for coffee These police officers and firefighters were some of the best friends i had we would joke around or just have a good time when we all got together.I have some stuff saved from a friend of mine who was in ladder 16 saved i have is long fdny coat his leather helmet and long rubber hip boots that he used on that day put away

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