"Because that's when the first plane crashed into the
The effect of the attack, in which four passenger planes were hijacked by
"That's when it changed not only my life, but it changed America forever," Cardwell said.
Now retired and a volunteer firefighter at
"A co-worker called and said, you need to turn the TV on," he said.
Later that afternoon, he and a group of other employees were told that the
"I made sure they (emergency responders) had the equipment to do their job," he said. "I was a small part of a big operation."
He traveled with his superviser, the late
It was like "a ghost town," Cardwell said. Streets normally teeming with traffic were vacant.
Then, at the
"A strong sense to duty, a strong sense to country that was represented by all first responders and all military," he said. "During the actual incident, I had a job to do and I was focused on my job. After the fact, I spent a lot of time dwelling on the fact of human sacrifice."
Cardwell referred to the sacrifices of police, firefighters, and others who worked with single-minded diligence to secure the scene and recover those trapped inside the
"Both of those planes had just taken off, and so they're full of jet fuel, and the fire was massive. Some of the remains, it just took a long time to find them. ... The buildings were 110 floors, and when they collapsed, all 110 floors, they were reduced to rubble," Briscoe said.
Briscoe said that the scene that affected him the most was when a firefighter was found.
"Whenever they would find a firefighter, everything would stop, and people would start lining up along this ramp, and they would have six firefighters carry the firefighter out," he said.
One night, they did that three times. "All three were in their turnout gear."
He recalled one firefighter, Capt.
"When the order came to evacuate the building, he didn't leave," Briscoe said. "I think that it made me appreciate the fellowship, the resolve, the dedication that most firefighters have. They knew they weren't gonna make it."
But their dedication, their sacrifice, saved thousands of lives, he said.
"Between the two buildings, there were 50,000 people that worked between those two buildings. In the grand scheme of things, the fire department did their job by getting out 48,000 people."
Both Briscoe and Cardwell likened the widespread impact of
"We were attacked on our home soil," Briscoe said. "I was told as a young person to appreciate what we have here in
Cardwell expressed similar sentiments. "I've always been a God-and-country guy. That's the way I was raised: Respect the military. Respect people regardless of their beliefs," he said. "I, for a time in my life, ... seen the most coming together that I had ever seen, that regardless of your personal and political beliefs, the people of this country came together as one. I don't want us, as a country, as a state, as a county, to ever forget
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