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SASKATOONEXPRESS - July 6-12, 2015 - Page 13

New York firefighter honoured to bring 9/11 mobile exhibit to Saskatoon The 9/11 Never Forget exhibit will be in Saskatoon at the Canada Remembers Our Heroes air show on July 11 and July 12. The 1,000-square-foot memorial provides interactive education, including artifacts such as steel beams from the towers, documentary videos, recordings of first responder radio transmissions and tours by New York City firefighters. Two firefighters will accompany the exhibit to Saskatoon. It is the first time the exhibit has been out of the United States. (Photos Supplied) Darren Steinke Saskatoon Express etired New York City firefighter Herbert Penner’s understanding about the impact the 9/11 terrorist attacks had on the world keeps growing the further he travels. The 61-year-old has traveled across the United States with the 9/11 Never Forget mobile exhibit, which has been in existence for a couple of years. The exhibit is a tribute to all those who lost their lives during the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. “I didn’t realize how far reaching it was until I started doing this,” said Penner, who worked that fateful day as a New York City Fire Department (FDNY) captain. “I was out in Oregon, and everyone started coming up to me and telling me where they were (on the day of the attacks).” “It was like, 14 years later, and they were telling me that.” The 9/11 Never Forget mobile exhibit will make its first appearance outside of the United States at the Canada Remembers Our Heroes Airshow, which is set for July 11 and 12 at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon. The exhibit is a 53-foot tractor-trailer, which unfolds into a 1,000 sq. ft. memorial that includes artifacts, documentary videos and recordings of first responder radio transmissions. Penner and his son, Michael, will be in Saskatoon to give tours of the exhibit. Michael, 32, followed in his father’s footsteps and is a 10-year FDNY member. The events of 9/11 will forever be burned in the minds of both men. Herbert was out and about in New York with a co-worker when the airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, which promoted a recall to all of the city’s firefighters. It was the first and only time during his 30-year career with the fire department a total recall was announced. At first, he contemplated going straight to the World Trade Center, but instead


went with his co-worker to their fire hall to get equipment. During that trip, the unthinkable happened. “We were on our way to the Bronx, and when we got to the top of the Bronx, it was such a clear day,” said Herbert. “The radio starts saying the second tower is coming down. “I just turned around, and you could just see the whole thing, clear as day, piling down.” Michael was a freshman student in college that day, and his morning English class was quickly cancelled. He remembered waiting to get a call from his father, as a lengthy amount of time slowly passed by. When Herbert did call, Michael was relieved, but he also realized a number of other families would not receive the same reassuring call. A total of 343 workers from the FDNY were killed in the attacks including 341 firefighters and two paramedics. Michael accompanied Herbert to help with the rescue efforts on one occasion. “I went for the day,” said Michael. “It was very sombre. Everyone was working and digging. No one complained and were just kind of digging and doing their job. It was quiet. There was not too much chatter. It was a sombre mood.” While the world changed on 9/11, it affected the two New Yorkers in a way few could understand. Herbert remembers going to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. before and after the 9/11 terror attacks. In the second visit to the Vietnam Memorial, he could pick out those from the crowd that were more directly linked to that conflict due to what he had experienced in his home city. He also has other lingering effects from working the recovery efforts. “After it was over is when you started paying the price with the post-traumatic stress,” said Herbert. “I have lung problems now with asthma. I had to get sinus surgery.” “Another hundred firemen died after

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that day from all kinds of cancers and blood disease. It is going to end up more people dying than were lost that day.” The attacks of 9/11 gave Michael his final push to join the FDNY. While he said security at airports and various public events has increased due to the terror attacks, he believes it also strengthened his country’s resolve. “It changes us forever, but in a way, it didn’t,” said Michael. “We are still going to be American and do what we want and have a good time and not let it stop us.” Both feel honoured to bring the 9/11 Never Forget exhibit to Canada for the first time, and hope they can encourage people to always remember that fateful day. “You think about the families and all the guys you knew, (and) that part of it is very tough,” said Herbert. “The other part of it is just keeping people vigilant I think and not forgetting.”

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Saskatoon Express, July 6, 2015  
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