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GRATITUDE FOR SACRIFICE

Red Cross volunteers deliver thousands of carnations to say thanks and to remember 9/11.

Janet McGuire drove to fire stations across Pasco County on Thursday to deliver flower arrangements and cookies to strangers. But for McGuire, the disaster communication officer for the local chapter of the American Red Cross, the mission was very personal.

She's got one son in the Army serving in Iraq. Another son is a firefighter in Atlanta. And in the aftermath of 9/11, she, her husband and their niece all worked at ground zero: McGuire at the respite center for the firefighters searching for survivors in the smoldering rubble, while her husband and niece provided assistance to the families left behind.

"There are thousands of heroes that no one said thank you to," McGuire said Thursday as she delivered bundles of red and white carnations to local emergency responders.

"We are excited to deliver the flowers because unfortunately they are the last ones to get a thank you."

Twelve volunteers with the local branch of the American Red Cross visited all 52 fire stations, police departments, sheriff's offices and EMT stations in Pasco County on Thursday morning. Their gratitude was met with appreciation.

"It's always nice to have someone stop by and appreciate what you are doing," said Lt. Perry Palumbo of the Port Richey Fire Department. "For people to take the time out of their day is nice."

The American Red Cross gathered thousands of carnations for their effort - not only to deliver to responders on Thursday, but for the 9/11 memorial that starts at 6:15 tonight at Sims Park in New Port Richey.

At the conclusion of the event, while the bagpipes play Amazing Grace, the American Red Cross will distribute 2,752 carnations in remembrance of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

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IF YOU GO

9/11 memorial events

A couple of community events have been organized today to honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

There will be a dedication at noon today of a new 9/11 memorial at the West Pasco Judicial Center, 7530 Little Road in New Port Richey. The memorial includes a wall mural, a "Flag of Honor" containing the names of all 9/11 victims and a "Flag of Heroes" with the names of first responders who died that day so that others could live.

A memorial service will be from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. at Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey. There will be prayers by local clergy and music by the Richey Concert Band and choral groups from local schools. The American Red Cross will distribute 2,752 carnations in remembrance of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

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