GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Across the country, Americans paused Wednesday to reflect and remember. A dozen years ago terrorists left an indelible mark on the date, September 11th.
The already close knit brotherhood of firefighters was strengthened on September 11th 2001. The attack on the twin towers killed more than 300 firemen.
Wednesday morning, Gulfport firefighters raised a flag and remembered.
It has become a traditional observance on September 11th for the Gulfport Fire Department. Firefighters mark the date with a simple and solemn flag raising near I-10 and Highway 49.
"We want to remember what happened 12 years ago. And remember the brothers that we lost. 343 of 'em. And it's just our way of taking time out of our day to remember what they did for us," said veteran fireman Jim Allen.
September 11th, 2001 gave Americans a new appreciation for firemen and other first responders.
After more than a decade as a fireman, Neil Clark still thinks about that potential danger.
"I've got little kids at home and I think about it a lot. But I know I work with a lot of good guys. We take care of each other," said Clark.
Watching out for each other is a part of that bond, that brotherhood, that makes firemen much more than teammates. Jim Allen says being a fireman is more than a career, it's a calling.
"I was in the military before this. Just the fact that you help people. It's a lot of fun. It's exhilarating, and yet you have a good purpose in doing it. It makes you feel proud. To know there's people out there that will put their life in danger to help others," he said.
"I think people appreciate what we do. And it feels good. Good to be appreciated," said Clark.
Americans are reminded this day about those who wear the uniform of firefighter and first responder. Motorists passing by the flag and fire trucks showed their appreciation by honking horns, thumbs up signs and words of encouragement.
"Oh that's great," said Allen, "It just lets you know that they're behind you. And America needs to come together."
Gulfport firefighters took turns standing watch beneath that large flag. They had to do a little schedule shuffling, since several of them were busy battling a fire early this morning