A Roseburg man continues to keep the memory alive of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks 16 years ago in New York and Washington, D.C.
Tony D’Agnese played in a high school marching band in Rockaway, New York in Queens, just a short distance from John F. Kennedy International Airport. He turned 47 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, a birthday that he will never forget.
“I knew six guys that died,” said D’Agnese, who carries in his trumpet case, a copy of the newspaper with pictures of the 343 first responders that perished in the carnage, when the World Trade Center towers were hit by airliners piloted by terrorists.
His good friend John Moran, a chief with the New York City Fire Department was one of those. The two attended school at St. Camillus Catholic Academy in Rockaway, where they played together in the marching band.
In honor of his friend and the many other first responders that died in the attack, D’Agnese has continued to conduct the memorial for all 16 years since, and he plans to keep doing it as long as he can.
Monday morning, he held the annual service at the 9/11 memorial in front of Mercy Medical Center by the flag which flew at half-staff. About 20 people showed up for the service, including several firefighters from the Roseburg Fire Department.
D’Agnese played several tunes on his trumpet including the national anthem, and held moments of silence at the precise times the towers were hit on that Monday morning in September of 2001, at 8:46 a.m. and then again at 9:03 a.m.
“What the first responders did was just absolutely amazing,” he said.
He finished the service with taps, and thanked the firefighters in attendance for their contributions to the safety of the citizens.
Roseburg Firefighter David Smith said it’s nice that the memorial continues, so we don’t forget about those who gave their lives.
“It keeps that memory, it was a huge event that had a great impact on our country, and I think as time goes on, taking the time to remember it is really important,” Smith said.
Lt. Tom Edwards of the Roseburg Fire Department said it just shows that when you’re a firefighter or any of the other first responder jobs, you never know what you’re going to find on that next call.
“We never know what we’re going on and when we get there, who knows what’s going to happen, so we just do our jobs, and sometimes it doesn’t turn out pleasant,” Edwards said.
Another firefighter, Shane Ronk, a driver-engineer at RFD, said it still brings back a lot of memories.
“I was on duty the day it happened,” Ronk remembered. “It’s just pretty surreal to this day, so I appreciate that they still have memorial services for those firefighters that perished, and I feel sorry for their families.”
RFD battalion chief Chris Sutton said he always remembers the responders that we are still losing, that worked tirelessly in the middle of the rubble and are now suffering the lingering effects of it, and also those who are fighting terrorism.
“I always remember that we’re still losing responders that were on the pile, day after day, and they’ve developed chronic medical issues,” Sutton said, “and of course remember all the service people at home and abroad that continue to fight the war on terror and sacrificing for us every day to maintain our freedom.”
D’Agnese was so moved with the first responders’ courage and disregard for their own well-being that he wrote a poem called “In The Line of Duty” and the final line summed it up for him.
“So glad am I that courage lives in the hearts and minds of those who stand against the harm that comes from men with hearts of stone. All...in the line of duty.”