Ohio fire chief wins trip to New York for 9/11 memorial service
Fire Chief Tom Mesler and his wife went to NYC for the 16th annual memorial service, courtesy of HRN Restoration & Construction
By Nancy Molnar
CARROLLTON, Ohio — Carrollton Fire Chief Tom Mesler doesn't need to consult a history book to know how many firefighters died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Three hundred forty-three," he said, when asked for the death toll.
He and his wife Margaret traveled to New York City for the 16th annual memorial service, and related activities, courtesy of New Philadelphia-based HRN Restoration & Construction. They won a drawing sponsored by the company, which donated the proceeds from sales of $20 raffle tickets to the Stark Fire Department Rehab Unit, which helps firefighters recover from the strain of battling fires.
Margaret Mesler noted that the weather this Sept. 11 was eerily similar to that on the day tragedy struck Lower Manhattan.
"All the New Yorkers, the radio stations, everything, everyone was remarking about how much this particular day, that 9/11 of 2017, was so much like 9/11 of 2001," said Margaret, who is also a Carrollton firefighter. "The skies were crystal blue. It was perfect weather out. A lot of people, you could see it in their faces, how emotional they were that morning, just thinking back and reflecting upon that day.
"That day was just picture-perfect. It was very memorable."
She described one of the many emotionally affecting features of the observance on the morning of Sept. 11.
"The firefighters did their salute when the first plane hit, when the second plane hit and then when the towers fell, which all took 102 minutes. So for all that time, the firefighters stood outside with their uniforms on and they saluted and did a minute of peace at each one of those times."
'It was pretty moving," Tom said. "The evening memorial services were 90 percent firemen. It was pretty emotional. It's pretty touching. It was all about fire. Most everybody had their fire shirts on. It was the first time I had seen anything like that."
Husband and wife were both impressed by the performance of a bagpipe band, comprised solely of New York City firefighters, who conducted a ceremony in the evening of Sept. 11. They marched past the site of the Twin Towers to the firehouse of Engine 10 and Ladder 10, which sustained the heaviest losses of personnel in the attempt to rescue people from the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
The couple stopped at the same station to visit and take pictures.
Their activities on Sept. 10 included a visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Their tour included electronic transmission of the guide's narration to the guests' headphones. The softly spoken audio enhanced the solemnity of the site, according to Margaret.
"They showed us several artifacts that have been found from the towers falling," she said. "They have a couple of the major structures taken where the planes actually hit, and have bent the metal."
They visited the site of the former Twin Towers on Sept. 10. On Sept. 11, Margaret said, only family members of those who lost their lives are allowed on the property.
The couple toured other sites in the Big Apple, such as Rockefeller Center and the Diamond District. It was Margaret's third trip to the city, and Tom's first.
"He was amazed at the McDonald's, that there was one on almost every block," she said. "That was basically the only fast-food restaurant, except for we did see a Burger King."
Tom recommended the trip to others.
"It was wonderful," he said. "It would be nice if several people could do this trip."
Jeff Mizer, who does marketing and sales for HRN Restoration & Construction, said the company "is a proud business supporter of the fire community." The company paid for the airfare and hotel. The prize drawing was held July 31 at the Tuscarawas County Firefighters Association meeting. This is the second year HRN sent a firefighter and his wife to the memorial observance.
Tom Mesler said he would invest in more tickets next year.
"I'll buy several," he said. "It was a wonderful trip that they sent us on. It was very much appreciated by myself and Margaret."
Copyright 2017 The Times-Reporter
- Fallen Firefighters