HAMILTON — Saturday in Hamilton, a ceremony marked the day 20 years ago that forever changed the course of history.
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the community came together to remember.
“We've hit a milestone where at 20 years we have an entire generation that doesn't know or wasn't a part of that day, and we felt that it was important to do a ceremony to not only do a remembrance for those we've lost, but also for those that weren't there and they understand the importance of today," Joe Kerr, Hamilton volunteer firefighter, told MTN News.
The ceremony began with bagpipes, followed by an opening prayer and brief history of 9/11. Among the crowd, many remember that day, while the young in attendance may not have the same first-hand experience.
Kerr worked as a firefighter at the time of the attacks.
“I was in Billings during 9/11. I was actually working a paramedic shift that morning," Kerr said. "It altered how we knew our country, and then it altered our way of life. And it was very disheartening and frustrating for us knowing that there was nothing we could do at that moment to help our brothers in New York."
The American flag was then raised half staff, bells rang in recognition of each 9/11 disaster site, followed by a moment of silence.
Fire departments from Corvallis, Darby, and Pinesdale participated along with help from the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, Heart Ministries, and the American Legion.
A large audience witnessed the ceremony. Among them: veterans like Corey Johnson.
Johnson was a Navy corpsman for eight years before transitioning to the Hamilton Volunteer Fire.
Saturday is not only historic because it marks two decades since the attacks, but also over the summer, troops were pulled out of Afghanistan indefinitely.
“It actually makes me nervous for our future, because we may be repeating it without the knowledge because I don't think 9/11 has been taught as well as it should have to those kids that are 15 to 30, they don't, they don't remember and understand the sacrifices of all of those men and women,” Johnson explained.
Flying high above the ceremony was a 20-by-30-foot flag raised by two ladder trucks.
Underneath it, a shared kinship among the first responders present.
“We just went on a large fire, and we were all together, you know, nobody questioned going inside. Just like those, those men and women on that day," Johnson said.
Now Saturday was the first time the Hamilton Fire Department planned a 9/11 ceremony, but they said, going forward, there's a possibility of continuing this tradition.