EFD honor guard enters Fire Fighters Park for Patriot Day Remembrance ceremony.

The phrase “we run in while others run out” was never more true than on Sept. 11, 2001.

Of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, 343 were New York City firefighters and medics who ran into the Twin Towers trying to save lives, but lost their own.

On this Monday, 22 years later, the Evanston Fire Department honored their late colleagues in the fire service, as well as the 71 New York City law enforcement officers who were also killed in the Trade Center collapse.

In a solemn ceremony at Fire Fighters Park, FIRE Chief Paul Polep said 9/11 and all of the fatalities “are etched in our hearts and in our minds. For many of us,” he said, “it seems like just yesterday.”

Evanston firefighters at 9/11 remembrance.

Whether they are big city professionals or small town volunteers, Polep said that “courage, sacrifice and unity define the fire service.”

Mark Shore also spoke at the ceremony.

An Evanston native and ETHS graduate, Shore has a perspective on 9/11 which few people can claim.

He was there.

Now a professor at DePaul University, Shore was working for Morgan, Stanley at the time, on the 62nd floor of Tower 2, and made a 20-minute dash down the stairs to safety.

9/11 survivor Mark Shore.

Shore’s comments at Fire Fighters Park were brief. He thanked the first responders for their courage, and also noted that his current undergraduate students were not born when 9/11 happened.

“Every year, it’s becoming more and more history to them,” he said, all the more reason to pass along the story.

Following the ceremony, Shore spoke with Evanston Now about surviving the attack.

“I was walking back to my office from the restroom,” Shore said, “when I saw people running out, and I didn’t know why.”

He soon found out.

“One of my managers saw the plane hit the other tower. He was yelling to everyone, ‘leave, leave!'”

They did, but the stairway only led to the mezzanine, not the first floor.

“When we got to that level, we could see gray and white stuff coming out of the ceiling,” Shore recalled.

“We felt trapped in the mezzanine stairwell. We could see stuff falling. I put my hand over my mouth. We didn’t know what was going on.”

Finally able to get out via an escalator, Shore said “we could see the other tower shake and then come down.”

He was able to run through the street-level chaos to another company office in midtown, although Shore said he was “not fully able to digest it all until the evening.”

While all of his close work friends survived, ten people from his company did not.

“It’s a memory, a recollection that’s burned into my memory.”

For the first responders, the tragedy of 9/11 continues.

Nearly as many fire fighters have died from cancer and respiratory diseases related to inhaling toxic dust and fumes that day than perished in the actual event.

Firefighter Michaelangelo DeLeon rings memorial bell.

“Taps” was played, and the traditional fire department bell was sounded to honor the fallen.

Police Chief Schenita Stewart summed up everyone’s gratitude towards the heroes of 9/11.

“Never forget, never forget, never forget their sacrifice.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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