Penticton man honours first responders who died in 9/11 attacks

Bob Rietveld keeps alive the memories of those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Bob Rietveld has never been in the military or worked as a first responder, but the respect he has for them transcends all borders.

That’s why on each anniversary of the Sept, 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 in New York City he has found some way of remembering the more than 400 people who died trying to help others.

READ MORE: Kelowna firefighters climb 110 storeys in full gear to honour 9-11 victims

The 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officials was the single largest loss of life for those first responders in United States history.

“When we heard about 9/11 I was living in Vancouver and some of us got together and decided we had to do something every year so it doesn’t get forgotten,” said Rietveld, who moved to Penticton three years ago after retiring from the construction business. “Let’s face it 9/11 changed the world, changed how we live, changed how we travel, it changed all our freedoms, it was an attack on our entire system.

“That one was about as colossal as you can get. It almost bordered on Pearl Harbor.”

As a member of the B.C. Provincial Command colour guard, each year he took part in the international remembrance ceremony with Canadian and American first responders at the Douglas Border Crossing. An event that has attracted thousands of people.

The convoy would travel through Richmond along Highway 99 to the border where they would meet up with the Americans and take part in a service there.

So this year, as part of his remembrance of the event, he stopped by the No. 1 Hall of the Penticton Fire Department Wednesday.

Driving his bright yellow Hummer with its Canadian and American flags and decals recognizing veterans, he brought along a special item.

It is an American “flag of honour” his daughter brought back from New York in 2010 that has, in alphabetical order, the names of all who died in the attack.

That flag has been attached to the front of the Hummer during the ceremonies since then.

The vehicle is familiar to many people as it was the lead in both the Peach City Beach Cruise and Peach Festival parades this summer.

“And so now, because I can’t march any more, I put the Hummer in all the parades and try my best to put veterans in it,” said Rietveld, who credits Canadian forces with liberating Holland where he was born at the end of the Second World War. “I was born weighing only four pounds, no food in Europe and they (Canadians) marched in and saved the country and saved me.”

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Canada, U.S. first responders remember 9/11 victims at Peace Arch Park

According to deputy fire chief Chris Forster, his stopping by the department was not lost on the members who were there.

“First responders, police, fire, EMS (ambulance) military really at the end of the day we consider ourselves one big family,” said Forster, who was in Kelowna that day for a memorial stair climb. “And certainly when you have people that come and continue on the memories of the importance of all the duties that does impact you.

“When someone actually takes the time to stop by and make mention of the importance of what we do and also provide how they were involved it actually does mean a lot. We don’t expect it, that’s our job, but it is appreciated and that makes them feel really good about what they do.”


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Roaring start carries Vernon Panthers to victory

The Panthers defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders 40-0 in exhibition play Friday

Cheers of support meet Cops for Kids riders at Vernon stop

The riders have one more leg to go in their 1,000-kilometre journey

New flyer machine installment underway at Morning Star

Our warehouse will soon be pumping out flyers faster than ever

Cyclists ride from Vernon to Eagle Bay in support of Rwandan schools

The 10th annual Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda has raised more than $100,000 in donations and counting

Update: Father calls for better drug recognition after 8-year-old overdoses at Okanagan school

The young child ingested an unknown substance Wednesday at a Kelowna school

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: Penticton fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

World champion snowmobile racer seeks public’s help after dirt bikes were stolen in Penticton

The bikes, valued at $25,000 and $11,000, were stolen from the back of a locked truck on Sept. 12

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

Penticton teen cyclist allegedly struck by black Ford truck resulting in hematoma

The incident occurred at the intersection of Westminster Avenue West and Power Street

LyleXOX launches first solo exhibition at Liquidity Wines in OK Falls

The Canadian artist has amassed thousands of fans for his beautiful self-portraits using found items

EDITORIAL: This is our election

It is up to the voting public to identify the issues in the upcoming federal election

Most Read