SD honors 9/11 victims and members of US armed forcesFormer New York Police Department Lt. William Dement can still remember the smell as he searched for bodies among the rubble of the World Trade Center during the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
By: KRISTI EATON , Associated Press
Former New York Police Department Lt. William Dement can still remember the smell as he searched for bodies among the rubble of the World Trade Center during the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The odor, a mixture of burnt flesh and melted electronics, permeated the air.
“Tears welled up in my eyes,” he said.
“It was the smell of death.”
Dement spoke Sunday at a grassroots event in Sioux Falls commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.
South Dakota had no state ceremony to mark the anniversary of 9/11, but several local ceremonies took place.
About 400 people listened as the now-retired Dement explained how he was working on his retirement home in New Mexico when he was saw the towers collapse on TV back in 2001.
He drove 2,100 miles over two days to return to his family in New York and his officers.
He spent the next few months collecting possessions and searching for body parts in the rubble. He went to funerals weekly, saying goodbye to friends and colleagues lost in the attacks.
“There was not a single dry eye as us cops banded together,” he said of the funerals.
Sunday’s event also honored the fallen members of the armed forces from South Dakota who have died in combat since Sept. 11, 2001.
“Today is all about honoring those who perished on 9/11 and the 3 million in the military,” said Gary Saxhaug, a member of the South Dakota Patriot Guard. The Patriot Guard was one of the sponsors of the “Cry Out America” event.
Veterans, military personnel and law enforcement were also honored at a ceremony hosted by the Sioux Falls Veterans Administration Hospital.