Eau Claire firefighters were in attendance at a 9/11 ceremony Wednesday at HSHS Scared Heart Hospital. From left are Jeff Patrow, Jamie Burkhardt, Bob Pratt, Taylor Quinnell, Andrew Dorn and Dave Pekol.

America changed forever on Sept. 11, 2001, and first responders and community members came together Wednesday to remember those who were lost that tragic day.

Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks which claimed the lives of more than 3,000 emergency service members and civilians.

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital held a service Wednesday morning where more than 100 service members, hospital personnel and community members came together to honor local emergency service members.

Robin Schultz, director of emergency services for the hospital, said the anniversary of 9/11 reminds her of the delicacy of life and reminds her of the sacrifice and courage first responders instill every day they go to work.

“We remember the heroism of those who lost their lives while saving ours,” Schultz said. “It is right that this day should not pass from our memory. We want to thank all of our fellow responders both nationally and locally that continue these rescue efforts daily.”

Eau Claire Fire Department members were on hand during the event. Jon Schultz, deputy chief of EMS operations, said the duties an emergency service member takes on are still largely misunderstood by the general public.

“Many do not understand the job,” Schultz said. “Many people ask why we’d go into a smoke-filled burning building. My answer is that it’s the job. It’s what we do. We go into an incident thinking it’s going to be bad and we have to get everybody out. The concept of the unthinkable occurring, such as a building going down or someone going through the floor is something we have to deal with, but we’ve trained for safety and maintain a heightened situational awareness.”

Similar to other prominent dates in U.S. history, those who were alive during 9/11 remember where they were and what they were doing when they saw the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City fall to the ground.

Jon Schultz said he was with his wife and two-week-old son at the time. He said his wife asked him what kind of world they had brought their son (and two future sons) into. The days following 9/11 are what defined his response to his wife.

“We brought him into a world where the people of this country come together during times of crisis and are there for each other in times of tragedy,” Schultz said. “Remember September 12th? What did you see on almost every building you passed by? Old Glory, the U.S. flag displayed proudly indicating this country will stand together in the wake of catastrophe.”

Schultz said the FDNY is set to introduce 13 new legacy firefighters this year who are children of men and women who lost their lives on the day of 9/11. Schultz said their willingness to take up the profession their parents died for is courageous and a true example of what it means to be an emergency service member.