Jacksonville area pauses to remember 9/11

Somber events include ceremonies at Mayport, St. Augustine, UNF

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Lena Pringle - Reporter/Anchor, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

As the nation honored the loss and sacrifice of thousands in the Sept. 11 terror attacks that rattled the country 18 years ago, several ceremonies in greater Jacksonville also remembered that tragic day.

Sailors and first responders raised a flag Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. at Naval Station Mayport.

At the St. Augustine Fire Department's main station on Malaga Street, firefighters stood side by side with members of St. Johns County to honor those who died that fateful morning. There were words of comfort, a presentation of colors and a moment of silence remembering all those who lost their lives, including hundreds of firefighters.

"To know that 343 firefighters woke up that morning, like so many of us do, and headed out thinking that it was going to be a normal day, like every day, only to never come home," St. Augustine Fire Lt. Brandon Seymour said. "That's something to really take you back and appreciate what you have every day." 

The ceremony concluded with a minute of silence at 8:45 a.m., timed to coincide with the time the first plane hit the first tower of the World Trade Center in 2001. Then, the fire department conducted the "Striking the Four 5s" by ringing its historic 1900 fire bell in four intervals of five rings each. 

People in the community impacted by the tragedy also left personal items and mementos for display. 

UNF honors 9/11 by teaching next generation

For many, 9/11 is a day that they will never forget.

"I remember that day very well; it's probably the Pearl Harbor of our generation," said Bob Buehn, director of the University of North Florida Military and Veterans Resource Center.

But it's also a day that some younger Americans don't even remember. 

WATCH: 9/11 remembrance reinforced for next generation

Many of the students at the University of North Florida are too young to remember the exact impact of 9/11, so the university spent the day making sure the history and solemnity of the moment was passed on to the school's students.

"It's history now. We have to keep this history alive," Buehn said.

The students got a chance to compose handwritten letters to first responders in remembrance of the day. 

Rayna Garcia, a UNF student who participated in Wednesday's event, said she was only 2 years old during the terror attacks.

Valeree Del Guidice, another UNF student, has more vivid memories of the day.

"I remember looking up because I saw my teacher going across the room and I happen to glance up at our TV screen and I saw the first tower up in smoke because the cartoons had gone to the breaking news alert," she said.

The faculty and staff at UNF said it's important that this generation of students and those to come understand the historical and societal impact of 9/11.

"America really came together that day. Younger Americans need to understand that we need to stay that way -- 2001, like I said, changed the whole trajectory of America. They saw that we were vulnerable, saw that we could be taken of advantage of. And students of today need to understand that as Americans, we must look out for America," said Willie Mitchell, a UNF faculty member. 

UNF remembered the day with a moment of silence and by handing out memorial ribbons, educating students, and thanking first responders. 

"They've made some of the greatest sacrifices that this country knows," Del Guidice said. "They've sacrificed time with their family. They've sacrificed vacation time. By saying never forget and remembering 9/11, we remember why they sacrifice what they do."

Flags at half-staff

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation directing the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations and grounds throughout Florida from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday. 

"On Sept. 11, we come together to remember the innocent lives lost in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001," DeSantis said, adding that he signed the proclamation "to honor those we lost and also to thank our military, law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders, and other emergency personnel, who showed true heroism."

Beaches Chapel Patriot Day ceremony

Beaches Chapel School hosted a Patriot Day ceremony on Wednesday that began with breakfast for first responders and members of the military. Eight local restaurants and stores donated items for the breakfast. The meal was followed by a ceremony for all the servicemen and women and the Beaches Chapel School student body. Nick Stinson, retired captain with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Dave Ellsworth, retired JFRD communications supervisor, spoke.

Ellsworth was a dispatcher in New York at the time of 9/11 and shared his experience. 

Moment of silence at JAX

At 8:46 a.m. Wednesday, the Jacksonville International Airport observed a moment of silence to mark 18 years since Sept. 11, 2001. All screening at the checkpoint ceased during the one-minute of silence, the airport said. 

K9s For Warriors honors heroes

A short remembrance service was held Wednesday morning at the K9s For Warriors campus. The ceremony included a lowering of the flags, a moment of silence and the playing of Taps.

K9s For Warriors is a local nonprofit founded as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is dedicated to training rescue dogs to serve post-9/11 veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma.

K9s For Warriors also recognizes National Suicide Prevention Week for service members with a PSA on how any veteran struggling with thoughts of suicide can find help.

Palatka events

The official Putnam County 9/11 Ceremony at the Putnam County Governmental Complex, 2509 Crill Ave., was held at 9:30 a.m.

The "Cry Out America" Patriot's Day 9/11 Prayer Service at St. James United Methodist Church, 400 Reid St., was from noon-1 p.m.

A "Commemorative 9/11" and "Honor our Local Heroes" worship service was hosted at Mount Tabor First Baptist Church, 4909 St. Johns Ave., at 6 p.m. The Tri-County Gospel Choir will pay special tribute in song.

Gov. attends Glynn County ceremony

Gov. Brian Kemp was in Glynn County Wednesday morning to honor first responders and commemorate Sept. 11.

Kingsland elementary school annual event

Students at Matilda Harris Elementary School in Kingsland, Georgia, participated in an "Eat With a National Service Personnel Day" at the school Wednesday.

This was the second year the school hosted the event, and it invited all police officers, firefighters, and EMTs to join the students for a free lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Jacksonville Sister Cities Association's Peace Concert

The Jacksonville Sister Cities Association, St. John's Cathedral, area schools, community musicians, JFRD Color Guard, OneJax at the University of North Florida and more groups have joined together in presenting this year's annual Peace Concert.

The public was invited to attend and commemorate the events of 9/11 "as we reaffirm our hope for world peace and celebrate universal humanity."

Supported globally by Sister Cities International, the event coincides with more than 2,000 musical concerts held worldwide each year on Sept. 11. 

The concert was scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Cathedral at 256 East Church St. in Downtown Jacksonville.

JSCA planned to host a reception after the concert with international light refreshments in Taliaferro Hall. 

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