Houma Fire Training Officer Mark Stevenson was a college student in Lafayette when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred.

“It was a scary time,” he said. “It’s important that we remember what happened and learn from it.”

On the 18th anniversary of 9/11, police, firefighters, EMS personnel and other attendees gathered Wednesday at the Roger Songe Veterans Memorial Park in Houma to pay their respects to the first responders who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks.

Stevenson, who’s been organizing the ceremony since 2013, said it’s important that the public never forgets the sacrifices made on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We’re starting to hire guys who weren’t even alive on 9/11,” Stevenson said. “It’s important they realize the ultimate sacrifice that happened. Those guys went in there not knowing what was going to happen and were planning on saving those people. They did what they could, but it just wasn’t in the cards. They tried to save as many people as they could and did what they were trained to do. I hope to live up that standard, and I don’t want to forget.”

Following a prayer, local first responders gathered around the memorial and took turns reading aloud the names of the 411 first responders who died in the attacks.

Among the nearly 3,000 victims who perished in the attacks were 343 firefighters, 23 New York Police Department officers, 37 Port Authority police officers and eight emergency medical services workers.

Starting at 8:59 a.m., which is Central time for when the first tower fell, several first responders began taking turns to read each name, followed by the chime of a bell.

After the names were read, the group held a moment of silence for all the other victims who died in the attacks.

Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove thanked first responders for their service shortly before the ceremony began.

“Many people, including first responders, were killed by this terrorist attack,” Dove said during his opening remarks. “It is a solemn occasion. God bless each and every one of them and may this never happen again on the soils of the United States of America. That’s why it’s so important to keep a strong military presence as well as police, sheriff, state troopers, firemen and first responders who are dedicated to protecting lives.”

Houma resident Carolyn Cox had never attended the ceremony before but felt she owed it to those who lost their lives during the attacks.

“I saw this event on Facebook and wanted to come to pay my respects,” Cox said. “I just wish more people showed up. They forget so quick.”

-Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or at dan.copp@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.