Six black and white flags sporting a single red line could be seen by those driving along Angus Road last week.
From 9:11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 11, the flags were displayed at the corner of Peterson Park. The flags were placed through a collaborative effort between American Legion Post 216 and the Gretna Volunteer Fire Department.
“All the other cities around here seemed like they had a 9/11 event to recognize first responders except for Gretna,” said Loren Foged, American Legion Post 216 commander. “We were talking and thought we should start with an idea and see where this goes.”
The flags were raised in a small, short ceremony, displayed as a silent reminder to the Gretna community.
“We’re hoping to display some mutual cooperation and camaraderie between the two organizations,” Foged said. “All of our firefighters are volunteers. The first thing they put on when they head up to the fire station is their heart. To me, that seems pretty significant.
“They don’t get paid for what they do, but that siren goes off all hours of the day. Every day, there’s someone to respond. I thought it was important to recognize that.”
Though Gretna’s own firefighters might not have been personally involved with lifesaving efforts in New York City 18 years ago, Foged said it is important to recognize these real hometown heroes.
“To me, a hero seems like the guy who gets up in the middle of the night to respond to a fire or rescue call when he might rather just roll over and go back to sleep, but they do it anyway,” Foged said. “In those moments, they are demonstrating a heroism that is uncommon. They do it routinely and without complaint, without pay, without any recognition at all.”
Foged said the collaborative effort is in its early stages and that both entities are seeking public comment, which will allow them to fine tune or expand upon efforts next year.
“We just wanted to make an initial approach and see where the community, the firefighters and the Legion want to go and where we take it next year is contingent on that,” Foged said. “I’m anxious to see what the community thinks.”
Those wishing to provide feedback on the event may reach out to the American Legion Post 216, Gretna Volunteer Fire Department, Gretna City Council or in a letter to the Gretna Breeze.