Utahns At Healing Field Remember Lives Lost on 9/11
SANDY, Utah — Rows upon rows of American flags created a reverent “Healing Field” of remembrance in Sandy.
Hundreds gathered Tuesday to reflect on the sacrifice of 9/11 first responders and the innocent lives lost.
Derek Darcy, a former New York City firefighter, led the memorial procession by carrying and then placing our nation’s flag.
“We can never forget the sacrifices that were made,” Darcy said. “This day is always emotional for me.”
Darcy has 17 years of fire service and rescue experience. He was an NYC volunteer firefighter for 12 of those years.
Darcy played an important role in saving lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
A first responder’s story
“I was on the phone with Reverse911 as the second plane hit the South Tower,” Darcy told KSL 5 TV. “My crew rushed to the scene. We entered the tower even though the evacuation call had been made.”
Darcy and a group of firefighters went room to room locating victims and helping them down the stairwell.
Darcy and his partner were assisting a 42-year-old injured woman down the stairs.
“It was my turn to stay and keep watch in the stairwell,” Darcy said as his voice cracked. He choked back tears. “My partner tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I got this one. I will see you downstairs — you owe me.’ I was with a handful of firefighters helping a group out. We cleared the lobby, and then the tower came down behind us.”
Darcy lost his partner that day.
The struggle after the attack
He and the other firefighters found refuge in a nearby building. But the debris and demolition soon left them buried several sublevels below ground.
“It took 18 hours before we could actually reach anyone,” Darcy said. “It took several more hours before we were rescued. We were one of only two groups who were brought out alive from that Ground Zero site.”
Darcy helped save 40 people that day.
He moved from New York City to Utah in 2005.
“The real heroes are those who continued to work as first responders after surviving 9/11,” he said. “I went to 43 funerals in the 90 days following Sept. 11. Nobody should have to attend that many funerals in their entire life.”
Darcy stressed the importance of respecting first responders and law enforcement.
“We need to help them get their jobs done,” he said. “If you see flashing lights behind you, pull to the side. We just don’t know what they are walking into: whether it’s domestic violence or an attack on our nation. We need to let them do their job.”
The Healing Field at Sandy City Hall
More than 3,000 flags are posted south of Sandy City Hall. Each of the flags represent a life lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in that grassy field in Pennsylvania.
This year, 17 flags were added to represent the lives lost by FBI agents who died from exposure.
Paul Swenson, owner of Utah business Colonial Flag, started the Healing Field 16 years ago.
“You can see the power of the field when you watch people touch the flags,” Swenson said.
Since 2002, and under Swenson’s direction, 800 different Healing Fields have taken shape across the country.
The flags will be on display until Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 5:30 p.m.
“This is not a day of sorrow,” Darcy said. “This is a day of remembrance. Let us remember the brave men and women who did what they were trained to do.”
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