Eighteen years ago, Temple Fire Chief Mitch Randles had his “Kennedy moment” that helped him understand the significance of 9/11, he said Wednesday.

Randles grew up hearing from his parents about the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but never really understood why people remembered it so vividly until Sept. 11, 2001, he said.

“Everyone remembers it just like it was yesterday,” Randles said.

“Just like it was yesterday” are words that were echoed by others Wednesday morning at the Temple Fire & Rescue 9/11 memorial service.

Temple Police Department Dep. Chief Jeffrey Clark was fishing in a boat in the gulf when a boat pulled up to it and said, “We’re at war, man!”

Nineteen terrorists hijacked commercial airplanes and turned them into high-speed missiles as they struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon. One airplane, United Airlines Flight 93, was crashed by passengers in Shanksville, Pa. It was believed the plane was headed to Washington, D.C.

The firefighters take a pledge to never forget their many brothers and sisters who died that day when the World Trade Center towers were hit. The pledge is to make sure their efforts are not forgotten, Randles said.

Things learned after 9/11

Temple Mayor Tim Davis talked about what Americans learned that day — that others thought it was appropriate to carry out that kind of massive destruction because of their ideology.

“Freedom and joys come at a cost,” Davis said. “I’m glad there are people willing to pay that cost for me.”

Emergency responders are always the first to run in while others run out.

“I’m thankful for that because I don’t know if I have that kind of mettle,” Davis said.

Sept. 11, 2011, also was a bonding moment for the United States. It reminded people to say, “I care for you” and to not only love their country and patriotism, but to love one another, he said.

Striking of the four fives

As people recalled the collapse of the South Tower, the striking of the four fives began by a member of the Temple Fire & Rescue Honor Guard.

The New York Fire Department, long before radios, pagers or fire alarms, had announcements that began with a series of bell strikes. When a firefighter died while on duty or an important person died, five bell strikes, repeated four times, would ring out — followed by the announcement.

A prayer was given by Assistant Fire Chief Mark Spivey, and the colors were presented. Two members of the Honor Guard slowly unfurled the flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, led by Fire Marshal Randy Rodak. The flag was slowly raised to the top of the flagpole before it was lowered to half-staff.

Training Chief Jonathan Christian read the 9/11 timeline that began the tragedy during which almost 3,000 people died.

The collapse of the North Tower was marked again by the striking of the four fives.

Mitchell reminded people to remember not only those who lost their lives that day, but also those who — since that day — died from illnesses caused by the explosions. Some people are still sick with the illnesses caused on 9/11, including cancer and respiratory diseases.