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Former firefighter keeps grisly 9/11 details secret from wife

Posted September 11

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— At the historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, first responders were remembered and honored Sunday for their service on Sept. 11 and beyond.

The director of the cemetery said Sunday that, after 15 years, people are starting to feel a little less connected to the tragedy than they did in the days following the attacks. They decided that the 15th anniversary was a perfect time to have a program honoring first responders.

Nearly 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11 attacks, including first responders, which is why cemetery directors saw fit to honor those trained to run toward danger when, for most people, instincts say to do otherwise.

"On 9/11, it gives us a good opportunity to thank all of those that ran in when many ran out but it gives us an awesome chance, on a local level, to be able to say thank you to those who do the same thing every day," said Robin Simonton with Oakwood Cemetery.

In the crowd Sunday was Garry Mead, a former firefighter from Connecticut, who remembers the task of going through the rubble at ground zero just days after the attacks.

Mead said the images from that day 15 years ago are ingrained in his head, but the details hardly ever leave his lips, not even to be shared with his wife.

"It's hard to talk about because I did lose some friends," he said. "My wife doesn't even know some of the things because I was on the Hazmat team trying to rescue."

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said programs like the one held Sunday not only show appreciation for first responders past and present but also create a time for reflection.

"It made us all reflect on the realities of terrorism, of fear, but hope," she said.

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