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Updated 09/11/11 – 1:39 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – As Chicago marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Chicago held a moment of silence Sunday morning to honor their fallen colleagues in New York City and, later, by sounding sirens for one minute at noon.
Fire Lt. Derek Jones, at Engine 13 at Columbus Drive and South Water Street, remembered his thoughts on Sept. 11, 2001: How horrible, how surreal the day was.
“It could’ve very well been Chicago. All that was going through my mind,” he said.
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Engine 13 responded to the fire at the Iroquois Theater in 1903, when more than 600 died.
And to the Eastland disaster in the Chicago River in 1915, when 844 died.
And in 1976, one of Engine Company 13′s own, Firefighter Walter Watroba, died in the line of duty.
On Sept. 11, 2011, Engine 13 remembered the 343 firefighters who died in New York City 10 years ago.
First, they observed a moment of silence at 7:46 a.m. Chicago time, to mark the moment when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
Then, at noon, sirens sounded for the victims of the September 11 attacks, followed by another moment of silence. More than 400 emergency workers – including 343 New York firefighters – died in New York City on this day in 2001.
A few people stopped to take photos and then the day went on at Engine 13.
Meantime, a 9/11 observance at a Northwest Side baseball field drew dozens of Chicago police officers and firefighters, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff.
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Hands folded across their chest, looking up, as a Chicago ladder truck draped an oversized American flag high above Little Cubs Field in Humboldt Park.
Afterward, Emanuel recalled the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
“It was a day like this, a beautiful day filled with optimism as people left their families to go to work – a sense of innocence – and we will never be the same as a country,” Emanuel said.
Chicago Firefighter Tim O’Brien said he and firefighters across the country took furlough time, or vacation time, to help out at Ground Zero in New York after the attacks. He said they went on their own time so their home cities wouldn’t be responsible if something happened to them.
“Everybody was working hard when I got there, 24 hours a day. Everybody was together and it was 24 hours a day – 15, 16, 17 hour shifts. And I was very proud that I could be a part of it,” he said.
He said the saddest part was leaving after helping with cleanup at Ground Zero.