New Hampshire Police Chief Who Helped on 9/11 Reflects on Tragedy

A New Hampshire police chief who helped dig through the rubble for survivors at Ground Zero is reflecting on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.

Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner says the images are as just as vivid today as they were in 2001. Humanity is also one of the most poignant memories that he has held with him every day.

"People are just helping people,” Merner said on Monday. "Firefighters digging, hoping to find some of their comrades."

On that fateful morning, Merner was working his shift as a Boston Police sergeant. By midnight, he and three other BPD officers were at Ground Zero searching for survivors.

"When you close your eyes and you remember 9/11 what, do you see?" asked NBC Boston reporter Katherine Underwood.

"Seeing names written in the dust on windows, things like, 'Dad, I came down here looking for you. Mom, I came down here looking for you,'" he recalled.

Sixteen years later, Merner still wears his "WTC" pin with pride and a black band across his badge with sorrow.

"Being a parent, I think of how many kids lost parents, some lost both parents that day," Merner said.

The pictures from New York City are some of the first that Merner put up this summer in his new office in Portsmouth.

Outside his window, there’s another daily reminder of the lives lost and the sacrifices made.

A steel beam from 2 World Trade Center is a permanent fixture outside the police department.

"I park there every morning," Merner said. "For many of these families, that day doesn’t end."

Merner admits his time at Ground Zero changed him.

"You learn to appreciate all the little things," he said.

Merner said he is grateful to have witnessed firsthand the spirit of the nation and the strength of its people.

"That’s what this nation is all about, that’s why we won’t be defeated," Merner said.

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