Jacksonville marks 9/11 anniversary at EverBank Field

Event remembers those lost, honors first responders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Day of Remembrance event took place this morning at EverBank Field to remember the men and women who died on September 11, 2001 and honor all first responders.

The event began with a ceremony led by Mayor Alvin Brown, law enforcement and military personnel, then a moment of silence at 9:11 a.m.

SLIDESHOW: Images of Remembrance

"I was in Washington D.C. -- on Capitol Hill -- having breakfast with Congressman Harold Ford Jr." Brown said. "We couldn't believe what had happened."

More than a decade later, local leaders and community members prayed, sang and stood proud.

"Liberty and justice and freedom are not free," said State Sen. Audrey Gibson. "And so we have to remind ourselves, that not only today, but everyday, liberty and justice and freedom come at a tremendous sacrifice."

Dr. Helen Jackson, CEO of the Women of Color Foundation, which is one of the event sponsors, said it's important to for the community to come together on this day.

"We will remain united as one United States of America and one bright future for all," Jackson.

Several community service projects also took place at the event.  The public was invited to help assemble 220 care packages for the nation's military members, plant 220 sunflowers and bag 220 groceries.  Those attending were also asked to bring a canned food.  A bag of groceries was given out to families in need.

A free pancake breakfast was offered for 1,000 veterans, military personnel, first responders and their families.

"Thank you firefighters. Thank you police officers. Thank you state troopers. Thank you children for your sacrifice," Gibson said. "Thank you to all the financial advisers who were in those buildings, thank you to the pilots, thank you to the passengers, thank you all."

Two handmade quilts were on display inside Touchdown Terrace, symbolizing the Twin Towers.  The patches were made by local children and sewn together by foster grandparents.

"Children are our future. And our first responders are saving our future every day and so we're so grateful for them and we want our children to understand they've been protected," said Jackson.

Tuesday's event was to be the largest 9/11 remembrance in Jacksonville history.  More than 30 businesses and organizations came together to make it happen.  Last year, 5,000 people gathered in Klutho Park on the 9/11 anniversary.

Jacksonville was one of 14 cities selected to receive a $50,000 grant from the National Community Service Organization to be used on 9/11 events over a three-year period.

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