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Cleveland FBI agents and analysts honor those lost 2 decades ago on 9/11

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 8:41 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The local men and women of the FBI are remembering the sacrifices of the agents they lost 20 years ago on September 11.

And they are also honoring those who are now suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.

They honored those whose lives were forever changed at a remembrance event Friday morning.

A row of American flags at Edgewater Park in Cleveland served as a somber backdrop.

Local FBI agents and analysts remembered the lives that were lost on 9/11 during a remembrance 5k walk and run.

The FBI flag flies next to the American flag.
The FBI flag flies next to the American flag.(WOIO)

The FBI agents tasked with keeping our country safe have endured two decades of loss, reflection and change since 9/11.

Eric Smith is the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Cleveland field office.

He said the mission to never let it happen again is personal for him.

“So on 9/11 I was actually at a counter-terrorism conference in Quantico. And one of the supervisors walked out on stage and he said that the FBI believes within the next 10 years there would be a major terrorist incident in the United States. And 15 minutes later he was right,” Smith said.

Special Agent Melissa Fortunato was a new agent in New York City at the time.

She was one of a handful of speakers at the event.

Fortunato spoke about responding to Ground Zero in the middle of all of the chaos.

“What felt like the entire world was walking north, we were pushing through people trying to get down. And we got down there, and at that point it was sheer chaos, you’re trying to figure out how you can be helpful,” she said.

Several local FBI agents responded to the crash sites to help with the investigation and recovery of evidence and victims.

That included local Special Agent Laurie Fournier, who dug through the wreckage in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

She passed away in 2009 from cancer, a 9/11-related illness.

Her husband Mike accepted a plaque on her behalf Friday.

“A couple of years ago I was asked, knowing what we know now, would Laurie have volunteered to go again?” He said.

“She’d do it again if it happened again, I know that,” he went on to say.

Sacrifices like hers, inspired local FBI agents renewing their commitment to protecting all of us.

“So yeah it hits home for us,” said Special Agent Vicki Anderson-Gregg.

“There’s not as many of us left in the bureau that were here on 9/11. We remember that day just like it was yesterday, and we won’t ever forget that,” she said.

The Flags for Honor from the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association will be out at Edgewater Park for the weekend if you would like to stop by.

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