SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As we commemorate the 21st anniversary of Sept. 11, first responders in Utah reflected on what this day means to them. 

Though 9/11 happened over two decades and over 2,000 miles away, first responders still remember the bravery and dedication of those who lost their lives. 

Like most Americans, Kelly Bird with Unified Fire Authority and Lt. Shane Manwaring with Unified Police said they’ll always remember where they were 21 years ago. 

Bird was a new father, going home to his son. 

“I went home and held him, held my family because it was, it was a tragedy it was something that we all were going through it was sad it was terrible and obviously I’m still emotional about it today,” Bird said. 

Manwaring was training to be a pilot for the military, who would soon be deployed to Afghanistan.

“It was something we’ve never seen before and it was hard to imagine it was happening to us here in the United States,” he said. 

Now decades later, both find themselves as first responders, looking back on that historic day with a new perspective. 

“It is different for me now it’s more impactful,” Bird said. 

They’re inspired by the heroic men and women who went into the buildings not knowing whether or not they’d come out. 

“You always hope in law enforcement that you’ll have that same courage that they had,” Manwaring said. 

They also reflected on how 9/11 unified our country, giving us a new sense of gratitude for our freedoms. 

“I hope we never forget how we all felt how we all became one nation that day how we all forgot about our differences,” Bird said. 

And said 21 years later, our country desperately needs heroes. Not just those running into the burning building, but also those who give up a seat on the bus or help a neighbor mow the lawn. 

“It’s really simple things we can do every day to help somebody else and it’s heroic,” Manwaring said.