SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) – Inside Sarasota County Fire Station No. 9, the memory of countless first responders lives on.
Members of the Sarasota County Fire Department, alongside other first responder organizations, gathered Sunday morning to remember all the lives lost on September 11, 2001 with a service reflecting that day. Rich Collins, director of county emergency services, led the memorial.
His speech took listeners back to that tragic day as millions of people were glued to their TVs watching the attacks unfold, “And I wonder if the people I knew who were part of the department and were they there that day,” Collins told the room.
Unfortunately, Collins knew someone that day.
He told the story of a New York City Fire Department firefighter named Andy Fredricks, a 21-year veteran of the service who had a passion for training. Fredricks and Collins had become friends over the years at various
Collins explained that Fredricks was one of the first to enter the World Trade Center, but never came out. It’s sad for Collins to think about losing her friends years later, but her story also serves as a stark reminder of what first responders risk every day.
“That every day we come to work is a gift to serve our community,” he said. “Part of that gift may be that we give our lives.”
Twenty-one years later, the victims and heroes of the September 11 attacks are commemorated by ceremonies organized by the guard of honor as well as a series of speeches and prayers. The exhibits evoke strong memories for many who think about what they saw that day and the people who are still missing in their lives.
It’s tough, but Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Regnier says it’s necessary.
“Awards fade, accolades die, but that memory must live on,” he told the crowd in a speech.
Some of that memory is now physical in Sarasota. The speakers presented a large piece of exposed metal, a piece of the World Trade Center taken from the ashes of the attacks. First responders explaining the artifact will not only serve as a reminder of the lives lost, but also the bravery that united our country in the days that followed.
The heroism that lives in the hearts of all first responders who answer the call in times of disaster.
“That’s why when you wake up, you iron your shirt, you put on your Class A uniform, you think about the sacrifice that took place years before we could even wear a uniform,” Regnier said.
Sarasota County plans to hold a similar memorial service again on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks next year.
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