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S.L. officers honor colleagues

They dedicate a monument to victims of attack

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Utah police officers and firefighters paid tribute to their fallen colleagues in New York and Washington, D.C., during a memorial service Saturday.

About 150 officers and firefighters from departments across Salt Lake County, their families and others gathered at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary, 3401 S. Highland Drive, to remember those who lost their lives in the attack on America and to dedicate a monument in their honor.

With a large American flag hanging in the background between two trees and another flag displayed more than 100 feet above the ground on a fire engine ladder, Bill Platt, chaplain of the Salt Lake City Fire Department, told the congregation Tuesday's tragedy hit everyone hard.

It's a reminder that when emergency crews go to work, they may not come home, he said.

"They did what every one of us would have done," Platt said. "We don't consider ourselves heroes. We want to serve you. It's our duty. We'll do our job if we're called upon."

Platt said he had no doubt that when those firefighters and officers reached heaven, they were welcomed by their loving Father who said, "A job well done, my faithful servants."

Salt Lake Police Chief Rick Dinse said while the tragedy has left Americans asking why, he has been inspired by the American pride everyone has shown in the days since the attack.

Dinse read an old passage by an anonymous writer about Old Glory that has circulated among the officers in his department. The American flag stands for honor and freedom, Dinse said. Old Glory is proud and recognized around the world, and though it has been burned, torn and trampled on, it will never fall, he said.

The Olympus High School Madrigals sang "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood before the crowd joined for the singing of "God Bless America."

The ceremony's highlight was the unveiling of a 4-foot monument next to the cemetery's pond. At the top of the memorial is the American flag. Underneath in large letters is "Sept. 11, 2001" and graphics of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center's twin towers. Inscribed in the monument are the words, "In dedication to the memory of those who lost their lives in the attack on America."

At the bottom of the monument is a quote from President Bush, "America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time."

Doves and pigeons were released in memory of the missing and those who lost their lives. A firefighter played "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes as the ceremony came to a close.

After the ceremony, people placed flowers around the new monument.

Salt Lake County Fire Chief Don Berry said the ceremony was probably the first chance many local firefighters have had to jointly reflect on the events of the past week. In addition to the regular volume of calls, some firefighters have been wrapped up in preparing to leave for New York, he said.

Salt Lake residents Wendy Carrick and Stephanie Gordon, who attended Saturday's ceremony, were in New York on a business trip when the attack happened. They say it's by the grace of God they're alive.

On many previous trips, the two had had meetings in the towers of the World Trade Center. This time they were on the fifth floor of Building 5 when the first plane hit.

"We looked out the window and everything was falling down," Gordon said.

New York residents who had been there for the last World Trade Center bombing knew they had to get out immediately, she said. People were literally running out of their shoes to get away.

Carrick became separated from Gordon and was two blocks away from the towers when the second plane hit. "It was the most enormous crash and boom we've ever heard," she said.

Carrick and Gordon eventually found each other. And with three others they rented a car and drove 30 hours straight back to Salt Lake City.

"Our story isn't a big deal," Carrick said. "We need to remember about our country and what we stand for."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com