HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The screeching bleat of bagpipes bounced off the dome high above the Capitol Rotunda Friday afternoon.
It was followed by a lone bugler.
“Amazing Grace” and “Taps” have become the theme songs of September 11 remembrance ceremonies.
The ringing of bells and the reading of names of the fallen are also standard fare on this solemn day.
The fifth annual EMS Memorial Service delivered all of it.
But it was not your standard memorial service. This one remembered EMS, ambulance workers and paramedics who are often overshadowed on this day by remembrance ceremonies for police and fire whose ranks were ravaged on September 11, 2001.
“You hear a lot about firefighters, the 343,” said Ed Moreland, Chair of the Pennsylvania EMS Provider Foundation which sponsored Friday’s event. “You hear a lot about the law enforcement officers that gave their lives, but you don’t hear much about the EMS providers, EMT’s and paramedics that worked for the city and hospitals in New York.”
In Pennsylvania last year, EMS workers responded to more than one million 911 calls. Two of them didn’t come home, dying in the line of duty. Their names were added to the lists of the fallen and read aloud. It’s a list no one wants to be on, but all understand the possibility is there.
“At any minute it could go wrong and you never know what you’re walking into,” said Karen Newman with the Mon Valley EMS. “When you get up in the morning, you kiss your family goodbye and you hope and pray you come home to them.”
On this day that’s chock full of remembrance, let’s not forget those who race to the scene to heal the sick and the injured and hold the hands of the dying. They do it selflessly and compassionately, day in and day out.
“They see things that some people in this world will never see,” said PEMA Deputy Director Jeffrey Thomas, who spoke at the ceremony. “They live with it every day. They put it away and they go on to the next call. It’s just amazing what they do.”