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‘Still Feel Emotion’: Couple Rings Bell In Memory Of 9/11 Attacks

Marsha and Lyle Holland are pictured this year in Westfield. Submitted photo

WESTFIELD — With the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks now passed, so too has the 20th year that Marsha and Lyle Holland have rang the bell outside the Westfield Fire Department in recognition of those attacks.

The Hollands, themselves members of the fire department, have carried on this tradition each year.

“We have a bell on the corner of our lot at the Westfield Fire Department that used to be the actual alarm bell for the Fire Department,” Lyle Holland said. “Our first year, the Ripley Fire Department and us came together for a small ceremony, but after that I just kind of kept it going.”

After the first year, it’s a tradition the Hollands have kept going on their own to recognize their fallen brothers and sisters. The number of times that Holland rings the bell also holds heavy significance.

“I ring the bell at 8:50, 9:03, 9:37, and 10:03, which is each time that a plane crashed,” Holland said. “And each is a round of five rings, which is a sign of a death in the line of duty in New York City.”

Lyle Holland has been a firefighter for 48 years, while Marsha has participated for 25 years. While the two have no personal connection to anyone in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, it’s a sign of respect for their fellow firefighters.

“Anywhere they are, they’re our brothers and sisters in the fire service,” Marsha Holland said. “We both subscribe to an online thing where we get notified to every line of duty death, even out of the country. This one was so impactful because so many at one time were killed and on our own soil. It was such a horrific event that just sticks with you. It’s been 20 years since it happened and I still feel emotion welling up inside. Everybody remembers where they were when they heard about it and it’s something we will never forget.”

While once in a while people driving by will honk or show their support, for the most part it’s a thing that the Hollands do quietly to show remembrance. This year, though, they did have special recognition from one of their neighbors in Westfield.

“For this last one we had a neighbor who was driving by and honking,” Marsha Holland said. “She turned around and came back to the fire hall so she could take our pictures. She got emotional just talking about it and kept saying thank you.”

The Hollands also recognize specifically the individuals from Chautauqua County who were on site to assist with reparations and whatever else was needed.

“It’s a brotherhood and we want to show respect for the others,” Holland said.

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