Kinston first responders to participate in 9/11 memorial event

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - This year the country will remember those who lost their lives in the attacks on 9/11 for the 20th time.

Among those who will pay their respects is Kinston Fire Department Captain William Barss.

“We feel that it is very important to always remember because once you start forgetting your past, that’s when history repeats itself,” says Barss.

The event will be held at the historic Grainger Stadium on East Grainger Avenue beginning at 9 a.m. The ceremony will pay respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks and show support for the current first responders that serve the community.

“With it being on a Saturday, it gives everybody the opportunity to attend,” says the memorial event’s curator, David Ricke. “I think it’s important that the youth get an opportunity to come out and understand exactly what happened that day 20 years ago.”

Younger generations will have plenty of opportunities to learn more about the ways local and national service members aid their communities.

Static displays of equipment from the National Guard, local EMS units, the sheriff’s department, police department, and local fire departments will give families the chance to take a closer look into the life of a first responder.

Captain Barss recalls the explosion of West Pharmaceuticals in 2003 when he thinks of the fear of the 9/11 terrorist attack. As a first responder to the fire in Kinston that day, he heard conflicting messages on the cause of the explosion.

He originally thought a plane had caused the destruction.

“At the time they were saying that it was a plane that struck the building,” remembers Barss. “We were getting phone calls back here at the fire station all the way from England. They were asking if this was a terrorist attack, and we didn’t know. We had no information whatsoever.”

That explosion was not caused by a plane, but rather a collection of fine plastic power in the ceiling of the manufacturing area.

Barss recalls the support he felt by his local community at that time and hopes the turnout for Saturday morning’s memorial will resemble those emotions, even years later.

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