First responders on 9/11: ‘The hope they brought was real,’ says Maine faith leader

By | September 10, 2022

The anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil serves as a poignant reminder to pray for and support the efforts of all first responders, said Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine. 

On Sept. 11, 2001, Deeley was not yet a bishop.

“I was a pastor at the time at St. Ann Parish,” Deeley wrote in a reflection on the day that he provided exclusively to Fox News Digital. 

The parish, he said, was located across the Boston Harbor from Logan Airport. 

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While the day started out like most others, it quickly changed as news of the attacks broke. 

Both American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, which terrorists overtook and shortly drove into the North and South Towers, respectively, originated at Boston’s Logan Airport. 

The realization that the terror attacks began from Logan, a “familiar” and “welcoming place,” shocked Deeley — and the rest of his community. 

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“It brought the story too close to all of us,” he said. “It left all of us feeling hopeless.”

Not knowing what else to do in the immediate aftermath, Deeley decided to open up his church and began praying the rosary. 

“Within a short time, the church was full, and it remained that way all day,” he said, “as we understood little by little what had happened.”

Amid the national tragedy, however, Deeley and his flock “began to see that there was something good” happening: the actions of the first responders.

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“The hope they brought was real, as was our gratitude, and that must be remembered,” he said.

This is especially important as time passes, he said, creating “a generation of youngsters who have little recall of this terrible tragedy.” 

“We must keep the memory alive of the generosity of those who serve us,” said the bishop.

The aftermath of the attacks “continues to be an essential part of our society,” said Deeley. 

“Our first responders, police, firefighters, disaster personnel, game wardens, EMTs and others keep us safe each day” — and often under immense pressure and stress. 

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“What happened on 9/11 reminded us that we are well-served by those who protect us and serve us,” he said. “In remembering the heroism of that day and its aftermath, we need also to express our gratitude for the continuing service of the same groups of people.”

First responders continue to suffer the effects of their exposure to toxins and chemicals while trying to save lives, he added.