This week our community, along with the nation, took time to recognize and honor those who put their lives on the line to keep us safe at home and abroad -- from our nation's veterans to those first responders who risk their lives every day in our community. These events help remind us to never forget the brave men and women and their families who sacrifice so much.
The week of 9/11 Remembrance Events began with the Sun Coast FOOLS (Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society) annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb held at Plymouth Harbor on Saturday.
The stair climb consisted of mostly local firefighters, but a few traveled from as far away as South Carolina to participate. Majority of the firefighters wore their complete firefighting gear, including air packs, which weigh in excess of 60 pounds, as they climbed the stairs in remembrance of the heroic climb 343 fallen firefighters made up the World Trade Center towers the morning of September 11.
The stair climbers aspired to three symbolic goals:
78 floors --which is where the South tower was struck
110 floors -- which is how tall the World Trade Center was
343 floors -- which is how many firefighters died that day
Most participants reached 110 floors with a handful reaching all 343.
Members of the public, as well as participants spouses and children, were able to climb and test there stamina alongside the Firefighters. This was an opportunity for the general public to get a glimpse into the life of a firefighter – to fully appreciate the daily demands of their job.
Prior to the start of the stair climb, the Sarasota County Fire Department Honor Guard led a procession complete with a Retired FDNY Lieutenant on the bagpipes. Garrett Lindgren, a retired member of Rescue 4/FDNY who responded to the attacks that day, spoke of the tragedies and reflected on the memory of his firehouse crew who all perished that day. Lindgren reminded those participating in the stair climb of the symbolism of the stair climb for their fallen brothers and sisters. Lindgren’s words were concluded with a moment of silence and a symbolic “Last Alarm” bell ring.
Proceeds raised benefit the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund and the Sun Coast FOOLS – both of which support firefighters and their families.
This morning, Sarasota Police Department, Sarasota County Fire Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office joined together to hold a memorial ceremony outside the Police Department headquarters. The ceremony began with opening remarks from Deputy Chief Stephen Moyer reflecting on the tragic events 12 years ago but also how it impacts us today.
In demonstration of the unity among first responders, Honor Guard members from all three first responder departments blended together as one during the flag & floral presentation honoring those fallen.
Speaking guests included Sarasota County Fire Department Chief Mike Tobias, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Colonel Steve Burns, and several Sarasota government officials. Musical tributes featured two of Sarasota Military Academy students. Gracie Cespedes, also a Legacy of Valor hero, performed the “Star Spangled Banner” on the violin and Houston Scott performed “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Attendees were asked to leave in silence and pause at 9:37AM in remembrance of when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, and at 10:03AM when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
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