NE Florida to hold 9/11 memorials

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Wednesday marks the somber anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 12 years ago.

The Jacksonville community will be given various opportunities to pay its respects.

While it happened more than a decade ago, local firefighters say no matter how much time passes they will never forget their fallen brothers and sisters.

"To lose 343 brothers in one day is just unbelievable to a department, and really that spread nationwide," said Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville fire union. "All fire departments across the nation felt that knowing one day you go into work, next day you don't come home."

There are several memorials happening in northeast Florida on Wednesday to remember 9/11.

One will be held in Jacksonville at Metropolitan Park in front of the Fire Museum from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be several guest speakers, including Sheriff John Rutherford.

In St. Johns County, there are two services planned.

The city of St. Augustine will hold the annual tradition at 8:30 a.m. at the St. Augustine Fire Department's main station.

The program will include a presentation of the colors by the St. Augustine Police Department Honor Guard, an invocation by the St. Augustine Fire Department chaplain, and 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. Then the Fire Department's historic fire bell will ring 12 times, once for each year since.

There's also the special 9/11 Remembrance and Prayer Gathering at noon at the St. Johns County Administration Building off San Sebastian Court. The national event is being held at state and county buildings across the U.S. and will include times of remembrance for the victims and families of those affected by the attacks.

At Florida Community College at Jacksonville's South Campus, a three-hour remembrance will begin at 10 a.m.  The event for reflection on the past and hope for the future is sponsored by FSCJ Student Life and Leadership Development.

The city of Lake City will mark the anniversary with a ceremony at the Downtown Olustee Park to honor local first responders, fire and law enforcement officers and honor the memory of the fallen heroes of Sept. 11.

In Orange Park, there's a ribbon cutting for Florida Fallen Heroes and Fallen Heroes Monument Awareness from 5-7 p.m. at The Hilltop Restaurant off Wells Road. Those in attendance will honor the fallen, especially the four graduates of Orange Park, Middleburg and Keystone Heights high schools.

Wednesday evening, Jacksonville Sister Cities Association is hosting a peace concert.  The free musical event from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral at 256 East Church Street will feature the Jacksonville Children's Chorus, the Atlantic Coast High School Choir and UNF Chamber Singers.

Then, "Raise Your Glass for the Fallen" will benefit the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation from 5-8 p.m. at Whisky River at the St. Johns Town Center.

Wyse, of Jacksonville's fire union, wants to remind the community that 9/11 is an important day to remember, but to also remember the sacrifice firefighters make daily.

"People are running out of the building and the New York City firefighters are running in," he said. "We always want to remember that, but that occurs every day in every city across America."

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