Firemen from five volunteer fire departments in the Bitterroot Valley held a solemn ceremony Saturday on the 20th anniversary of the 911 attacks. Earlier in the day, a large American flag had been raised between ladder trucks from the Hamilton and Corvallis Fire Departments over the intersection of State and South 3rd, next to the Hamilton Fire Hall.

After bagpipes called in the community at 10 a.m., firemen marched out of the Hamilton Fire Hall and the short memorial started with a prayer, then the ringing of the fire hall's bell for each of the tragic events 20 years ago on September 11th.

The bell rang five times each for 1) the jetliner hitting the first of New York's twin towers, 2) the second tower hit, 3) the hit at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and 4) the crash landing of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

Another American flag was raised on the fire hall flagpole and then lowered to half-staff. The brief ceremony included The Firemen's Prayer and a time of silence, remembering those who lost their lives in that horrible day. Firemen, emergency responders and retired firemen attended from Hamilton, Corvallis, Pinesdale, Darby and Sula volunteer fire departments, along with a color guard from American Legion Post 47. Around 200 people were at the Saturday morning ceremony.

Hamilton fireman Nathan Brady said, "What a lot of people might not realize is that we operate together on certain calls we're called to; neighboring fire departments are dispatched together." And he said that at a ceremony such as Saturday's, "Whenever we get together with our brothers and sisters, it just strengthens that bond and helps us operate together when somebody needs our help." And help is needed at all the departments, experiencing shortages of volunteer firefighters. The 911 ceremonies were held throughout the country, including an annual memorial in Stevensville and a memorial in Missoula.

Raising a flag to half-staff at the Hamilton Fire Hall. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)
Firemen marching out of the fire hall to the ceremony. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)
Two flags at Hamilton Fire Hall. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)
911 ceremony at Hamilton Montana.