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The events of September 11, 2001 changed the history of the United States and the world. As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, 27 cadets from the Fresno City College Fire Academy are making plans to take a trip of a lifetime to participate in ceremonies commemorating the day. Some weren’t even born yet. Others remember the day and how it shaped their futures. For some, this will be the first time traveling to the East coast.
Members of Class #56 will arrive on Thursday, September 9 and return Monday, September 13. While in New York, the cadets will visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to pay tribute to the 343 fire fighters who lost their lives during the attacks on the Twin Towers. They will also participate in the 20th Anniversary Commemoration parade and ceremony. The visit to New York will include a trip to see the Statue of Liberty and a tour of the New York Fire Department training facility.
Director Cacossa says taking the trip this year will have a bigger impact on the cadets than if they went any other year. He said the intention of the trip is to be both educational and historical for the students.
“I'm hoping that they get a new rejuvenation of what they want to be. I hope this solidifies their resolve to become firefighters and not scare them off, but to say this is what I want to do, this is what I want to make as a career. I will do the exact same thing that these firefighters did if it comes down to it,” he said.
Class president Scott Jaeckel was 21-years-old in 2001 when 9/11 happened and says the horrific tragedy is the reason he’s always wanted to be a firefighter. This is his first trip to the memorial. He is excited to be going to New York, but knows the commemoration will be both solemn and emotional.
“I know it’s not something to be celebrated, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m honored to be part of it,” he said.
Jaeckel is hoping his younger classmates will get a greater awareness about their chosen careers. “Maybe it will give the younger ones a better perspective of the job that we’re getting into and the fact that could be us. It’s a little eye opener that the job is dangerous and that we’re a fire family even though they are 2000 miles away,” he added.
Director Cacossa recalled visiting the site where the Twin Towers once stood when he was a senior at West Point. He was close to graduating and knew he would be deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan or both. Being there reaffirmed his decision to go to West Point and then now being a firefighter. “It was it was one of those moments when I said, ‘Yes, there's a reason that I'm going, there is a reason why I'm deploying, there's a reason for why I'm in the military right now,’” In 2007, he was deployed to Iraq.
Class #56 began the Academy in July and will graduate on December 17, 2021. The only other class to travel to New York for a 9/11 commemoration was Class #23 in 2005.
Fundraising is underway to help the future firefighters pay for the trip. On Saturday, August 28, a car wash will be held in the Lowe’s parking lot in Clovis (875 Shaw Ave.) from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For other donations, please contact Director Peter Cacossa: email@example.com or Cadet Scott Jaeckel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donors can also make a donation online.