Rows of firefighter boots with miniature flags for 9/11 Memorial Ceremony. – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Blue Tick Sugar Images
On Sunday, Americans remembered 9/11, one of the deadliest terror attacks on U.S. soil with tear-jerking tributes and declarations to “never-forget,” 21 years after the horrific incident.
On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida conspirators seized control of passenger-filled airplanes to use them as missiles. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and spurred a U.S. “war on terror” throughout the globe, reconfiguring national security policy. Sunday’s observances came a little over a month after an American drone strike killed a key al-Qaida figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, who helped plan the horrid 9/11 attacks.
In Florida, firefighters from across the Central Florida region gathered Sunday morning to pay their respects and honor the lives lost on September 11, 2001.
Crews from several agencies including the Orange County Fire, Orlando Fire, Lake County, Apopka, Deltona, and Deland got together at the City National Bank building in downtown Orlando to make four rounds up and down the building, totaling 110 stories.
“Just to come out here and walk alongside these guys, we’re all the same person today, we’re all here for the same reason, so it’s truly humbling. The reason we’re out here is to come suffer a little bit for all of those people who lost their lives 21 years ago, so it’s the least we can do,” said Nate Carn from the Deland Fire Department.
“Trying to pay our respects simulating what those firefighters went through before they died on 9/11,” said Lt. Bassel Ibrahim of the Orlando Fire Department.
Lt. Ibrahim said the event has grown enormously in the last decade.
“I never imagined it being this big. It started as our crew at the firehouse, and then over the years it evolved, and we have over 100 firefighters out here from all over the state,” Ibrahim said.
Orlando firefighter, Michael Covell said he was just 12 years old on the day of the attacks.
“We sort of climbed in their memory, 110 floors,” Covell said. “It’s something that I remember as a child, obviously I’m a grown adult now, but until this day, it still kind of resonates with me.”
Chief Charlie Salazar joined the fire department and climbed along his crews. He said it is more about honoring the tragic lives lost and showing the courage it takes in the profession.
“When there are lives on the line, that’s what firefighters do; they put their lives on the line,” he said.
Beyond Florida, communities across the country marked the solemn day with candlelight vigils, interfaith services, and an array of commemorations. Some people participated in volunteer projects on a day that is federally recognized as both a National Day of Service and Remembrance and Patriot Day.
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Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.