County, others to mark 20th anniversary of tragic event
Two decades. Twenty years. That’s how long it’s been since terrorist attacks on the United States reshaped the path of the nation moving forward, and when nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. In Southwest Florida and across the nation, Americans will do what they’ve always promised to do, and that’s never forget the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
This Sept. 11 at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center in Fort Myers, local first responders and public officials will host a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony starting at 8:30 a.m., where an array of agencies and organizations will pay homage to the men and women, mothers and fathers, sister and brothers, and sons and daughters who lost their lives that day, or as a result of that day.
Local law enforcement, fire departments, public safety, and airline representatives will conduct a roughly 90-minute ceremony that includes a national colors presentation, patriotic music, and the reading of the names who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“We honor this day in a big way collectively around the county — fire departments, police departments, (airlines) — at the five-year (anniversary), the 10-year (anniversary), and we really wanted to make sure we culminated it at the 20-year,” Fort Myers Fire Department Chief Tracy McMillion, who also serves as vice chairman of the Lee County Fire Chief’s Association, said. “This event allows the community to remember our heroes, the ones who served, the ones who are still serving, and the ones who paid the ultimate price.”
Brief comments from local officials will include Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson, Fort Myers Councilman Johnny Streets, Lee County Commission Chairman Kevin Ruane and Florida State Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka.
“We want the emphasis to be on remembering those people who were working, those people that were on duty that day, and read their names,” McMillion said. “This is a powerful event to be able to remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice on that day.”
McMillion said the atmosphere will be one of togetherness.
“Similar to like it was 20 years ago,” he said. “Putting down racial divides and political divides that sometimes clouds our world, and just take a time just to remember that tragic day.”
McMillion added it’s important to continue to help the younger generation, including some of his own firefighters, just how critical it is to never forget that day and the brave men and women who walked into danger to help others.
“I have some new firefighters that weren’t even born when this day actually happened,” he said. “So, it’s really great for us to be able to try to pass on that tradition, that history, and information about giving that ultimate sacrifice for your fellow man, for your country, and for those in need. It’s great for us to be able to have an opportunity to make sure those that lost a life didn’t lose it in vain.”
Representing the airlines, their employees and passengers who lost their lives that day will be retired flight attendant Kathy Kuzminski, who will read the names of the American Airlines crew members who died. Traveling the skies for decades until she retired from American Airlines in 2005, Kuzminski said she was very fortunate to not have been in the air on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I was supposed to fly the next day to Stockholm, but I was home and it was a real blessing not to get stuck somewhere as so many did,” she said.
Many of her colleagues ended up stranded overseas as air traffic in the United States was completely shut down.
“To be caught overseas and not really know what was happening was not a good thing for them,” Kuzminski said.
She and other Southwest Florida flight attendants called the “Kiwi Club” have often taken part in 9/11 remembrances over the years at establishments such as Rumrunners in Cape Coral.
“I’m pleased that we’re doing something again,” she said. “To me, it’s just another point in history that if you pay attention to it, it won’t be repeated, hopefully. This is just something that affected so many people and changed so many lives over the course of 20 years. It’s important to remember — especially those flight attendants on board those planes — they didn’t have an option. I’m very proud of the few flight attendants that got in touch with people on the ground to help them identify the terrorists. But to think about the firemen and policemen, and the brave souls who walked into the danger is incredible. We should just all remember their heroism and bravery.”
The county event is free and open to the public, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for large events and gatherings will be followed.
The Caloosa Sound Convention Center is at 1374 Monroe St. Doors open at 7:45 a.m.
Brotherhood of Heroes
The Brotherhood of Heroes Resource Center and Museum in Cape Coral will hold a 9/11 remembrance ceremony on Sept. 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to honor first responders and those who perished in the attacks on the United States.
The outdoor ceremony — weather permitting — is free and open to the public. Speakers will include Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter, District 4 Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, District 77 State Rep. Mike Giallombardo and State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit Amira Fox.
The LCSO Honor Guard will present colors and the national anthem will be sung. There will also be a special video put together by the Brotherhood depicting the events of 9/11.
“It’s an opportunity for people within our community to come out and remember those who died in the attacks on Sept. 11, whether they were first responders or civilians,” Brotherhood of Heroes event coordinator Nyah Castellon said. “We always try to educate on the history of our military and law enforcement, this was a big part of our history and affected a lot of people. It gives people the opportunity to come and see the history and our appreciation for it.”
Refreshments will be available for attendees.
The Brotherhood of Heroes Resource Center and Museum is at 4522 Del Prado Blvd. S.
For more information, visit www.thebrotherhoodofheroes.com.
Cape Coral police, fire
The Cape Coral police and fire departments will host a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony on Sept. 11 at 8:30 a.m. on the front lawn of the City Hall in Cape Coral.
The ceremony will include the presentation of colors by the Cape Coral Fire Department and Cape Coral Police Department Honor Guards. Mayor John Gunter, CCPD Chief Tony Sizemore and CCFD Chief Ryan Lamb will deliver remarks.
Attendees will stake 2,977 American flags, each with a name of a victim of the attacks, in the front lawn to honor their memory and reaffirming that “We Will Never Forget,” officials said.
The Cape Coral City Hall is at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.
American Legion Post 90
The American Legion Post 90 in Cape Coral will hold a special 9/11 memorial remembrance service on Sept. 11 at 3 p.m.
The remembrance service will include a special Honor Guard and a 21-gun salute. Immediately after the ceremony the post will offer a free dinner not only to all the military members and veterans who attend but also to the public, which is invited to attend.
“It is our way of showing support to the Cape Coral community,” officials said. “Please join us for this important event to show that we have not forgotten those who perished.”
American Legion Post 90 is at 1401 S.E. 47th St.
American Legion Post 136
The American Legion Post 136 will be honoring local first responders on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. The American Legion family will be having a special flag ceremony on 9/11 at promptly 7 a.m. at the American Legion Post 136 at 4106 Stringfellow Road in St. James City.
There will be a special flag presentation accompanied by “Taps” being played.
All are welcome to attend to honor the first responders.
The ceremony is being sponsored by the American Legion Chapter 136 Riders and the members will be serving free coffee and donuts.
Sons of the American Legion Squadron 323
The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 323 will hold a Patriot Day event at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 11 at the post at 1124 Ashlar Ave. in Lehigh Acres.
The public is invited to the ceremony to honor and remember those lost in the tragedy that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
A New York City police car will be on display.
There also will be food trucks on site, following the ceremony for those who may wish to linger.
IMAG History & Science Center
The IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers will hold a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. commemorating the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
The event will feature guest speakers, a dedication of a 9/11 Memorial stone from the World Trade Center, and a 9/11 Memorial display. Founder, artist and sculptor of Project 911UP, St. James City resident Sandra Priest donated the stone sculpture, which is created from a piece of the slurry wall salvaged from Ground Zero.
“The experience of seeing and touching this memorial is important to restoring hope and rebuilding our spirits as a people and a nation,” she said.
The event is free and open to the public.
The IMAG History & Science Center is at 2000 Cranford Ave.
Shell Factory & Nature Park
The Shell Factory & Nature Park in North Fort Myers is set to host a 9/11 Remembrance event on Sept. 11. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the formal ceremony beginning at 12:16 p.m. The time is significant because that was when the government stopped all the planes flying over America.
According to General Manager Anne Sheridan, the day will serve as a celebration of the American spirit and first responders while also honoring those who lost their lives on that day.
“It is a day we will never forget. We wanted to let everyone know how important it is. We realize we have the area in which to do it,” she said.
There will be a helicopter flyover and more to remember and honor first responders and those who suffered that day. The event also serves as an opportunity for youths who had yet to be born when the event happened to learn what it was like on that day.
The event will be hosted by NBC-2 news anchor Peter Busch and feature appearances by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Divisions such as the bomb squad, helicopter flyover and the Honor Guard performing “Taps,” Cape Coral Fire Department, Hero Jeep, the SWFL Military Museum bus, Patriot Riders of America and Pure County Band, which will perform until 4 p.m.
Also expected is a large banner to be draped across the area with the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died. There will also be signs that let people know what happened and when it happened, as well as one that shows the path of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
Specials such as free admission to the Nature Park and carousel rides for seniors, veterans and first responders will be offered.
“This is going to be outstanding. So many people are so enthused about this and wanted to be a part of it. People are hearing about it and the more they hear about it the more they want to come and be a part of it,” Sheridan said.
The Shell Factory is at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave. For more information, call 995-2141 or visit shellfactory.com.