Wausau police and firefighters reflect on how 9/11 changed their lives

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW)-- September 11 affected first responders around the country. Police and firefighters in Wausau told us even though they weren't in the line of fire, that day left a mark.

The attacks changed the direction of their lives and their families.

"Everybody was affected, whether you were there or not," said Wausau Police Officer and Marine veteran Peter Fish.

“They were pretty much going into certain death, but they were doing their job,” said Wausau Firefighter Paramedic Tyler Becker.

The events inspired some to join the military.

"It certainly changed the future and molded a lot of veterans. Hands down, I think that was probably the biggest influence in my decision," said Officer Fish.

Or changed the lives of their families.

"It affected my kids more, because I worked as a firefighter, and then they see firefighters and police and emergency workers getting killed trying to help people," said Lieutenant James Whitehead of the Wausau Fire Department.

Even if they weren't there, it felt personal.

"As a reminder to myself, I often take out an old book of mine that was written by a firefighter, 'Report from Ground Zero,' I always make a habit of going over a few chapters just for my own personal reflection," said Bob Rode, an engineer at Wausau Fire Department.

Eighteen years later, "it's easy to lose that perspective," said Lieutenant Whitehead.

"See past some of our minor differences and kind of just remember that we're all Americans," said Officer Fish.

"I just want to make sure that we never forget what happened on that day," said Rode.

It’s a difficult day for America, but for first responders, it hits differently.