Firefighters remember the fallen

CENTRAL GLENDALE — A solemn message in honor of victims who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was read over emergency radio airwaves early Saturday as Fire Station 21 firefighters observed a moment of silence for fallen servicemen.

Nine years after two airplanes struck the World Trade Center's twin towers, Glendale firefighters continued their tradition in honoring the attacks' victims, including 343 New York firefighters, with the moment of silence, flag salute and prayer.

The attacks have forever changed the nation, Tim Thome, a retired Glendale firefighter and the department's chaplain, told firefighters during his prayer.

"We became more aware of one another and the important things in life," he said. "I think we might have taken a lot of things for granted that we don't do so much anymore."

Fire service has also transformed post-9/11 to include specialized terrorism training and better safety equipment, Battalion Chief Tom Propst said.

"When we hire here, we all realize we are getting into a dangerous profession," he said.

The attacks personally affected Glendale firefighters.

Glendale firefighter John Preston's cousin Patrick "Paddy" Brown, who was also a firefighter, died while rescuing victims in one of the towers.

This Sept. 11, religious divide over a Florida-based pastor's threats to burn copies of the Koran and the building of a proposed Islamic cultural center two blocks from the former World Trade Center site created tension across the nation.

The pastor and his small church didn't go through with their plan.

"There is a god who guides everyone," said Islamic Center of Glendale President Abo-Elkhier E. Serag at Friday's Eid Prayer at Pacific Community Center.

"He's been guided by god to do that. It is not the true message of any religion to tell anyone to do that," he added.

The Sept. 11 attacks were hurtful to Serag, who lived in Philadelphia at the time, and Muslims everywhere.

"As an American, it hurt me as it hurt any other American," Serag said. "The act damaged the image of Muslims more than anyone could expect, and that is more dear to us than anything else. Islam is a religion of peace."

The pastor's plans stirred concerns nationwide over possible attacks against Islamic centers and servicemen overseas.

The Glendale Police Department performed extra patrols of the Islamic Center of Glendale, following requests for additional protection during Ramadan and the weekend, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

"They want to make sure they can continue to express their religious belief," he said.

No incidents were reported at the center as of Sunday, police said.

"I think there is more tolerance here," Lorenz said. "I don't see those problems here, and I don't think anybody else does."

Bill Kisliuk contributed to this report.

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