Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Sept. 11, 2001, attacks remembered around Tampa Bay

TAMPA — The color guard remained at attention for a long moment of silence.

Meanwhile, voices on the scanner kept announcing new calls. Then, at 9:59 a.m., the time the World Trade Center's south tower collapsed, a man's voice on the scanner read an announcement.

"This is in remembrance," he said. "God bless, and may they rest in peace."

Tampa's firefighters weren't in New York City when the twin towers fell. But as first responders, they feel a somber kinship with the firefighters who died during the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We respect their service," said Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Tom Forward at a ceremony held Tuesday morning at the Tampa Firefighters Museum.

About two dozen firefighters gathered to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

The firefighters were joined by people across the nation in remembering those who died in the terrorist attacks. Events were held throughout Tampa Bay to commemorate the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.

The Hillsborough County Veterans Council hosted a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum in Tampa. About 75 civilians, veterans, active military members and their families gathered in honor of those who have served in the military since Sept. 11.

Veterans from the James A. Haley VA Medical Center, some in wheelchairs and some with walkers, lined a sidewalk and saluted during the presentation of colors and the national anthem.

"We are proud of everyone that is serving or has served our great nation," said council president Walt Raysick, standing next to a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

As taps was played, members of the audience stepped forward and placed a rose on a table, each representing the different groups — men, women, children, servicemen and first responders — who were killed.

"We cannot and will not forget what happened," Raysick said.

Yngrid Garcia, whose 21-year-old sister, Marlyn, was killed in the attack, thanked the crowd for coming to remember those who died and what the attacks meant.

"They did take down our buildings, but they did not take our dignity, they did not take our pride," Garcia said.

At the close of the ceremony, the Riverview Marine Corps League, standing next to the thousands of American flags placed in the grass, gave a three-shot rifle salute.

Annette Smith, chaplain for the American Legion auxiliary in Riverview, went to show that she cares.

"I came here today because I believe in freedom and I believe in our first responders," she said. "What would we do without our firemen, our military and our policemen?"

Other groups across the bay area also paid their respects.

Staffers, travelers and guests at Tampa International Airport observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the exact time of the first attack, in remembrance of those who were lost and to honor the emergency responders and armed forces.

Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, along with Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, hosted a memorial ceremony in which a monument containing a 150-pound steel beam from the World Trade Center was unveiled.

"We live 9/11 every day but we've moved forward. We've grown stronger," said Michael Gala Jr., a New York City fire battalion chief and keynote speaker at the cemetery.

In Clearwater, firefighters paused for a moment of silence before 10 a.m. outside Fire Station 45 to honor the 343 firefighters and public safety workers who died while trying to save others.

In St. Petersburg, firefighters held "Never Forget 9/11" signs outside their stations.

But for some, remembering Sept. 11 meant something else.

At Chillura Park in downtown Tampa, Ann Douglas of Valrico and Raynea Cook of Apollo Beach were waiting at 11:30 a.m. for a prayer vigil to start.

They had been invited by organizations that are trying to prevent representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations from speaking in the Hillsborough public schools.

Douglas, 51, has two grandchildren in elementary school.

"I believe it is important for them to understand the events that took place on 9/11 and the significance of that," she said. "And we want to pray for our nation's safety."

Cook, whose daughter is a high school senior, said that if Christianity is not allowed in the schools, Islam should not be permitted either.

"I fear for my grandkids," she said. "This is a time for people to wake up spiritually in Christ."

Times staff writers Marlene Sokol and Stephanie Wang contributed to this report.

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