Call it Patriot Day or National Day of Service and Remembrance, but the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our homeland is a day that will never be forgotten.
The Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District held a short groundbreaking ceremony for a monument memorial involving a replica of a World Trade Center artifact at Fire Station #33 last Wednesday. The monument is set to be ready for installation in February 2014, while a remembrance ceremony is slated at the island's south end fire station on the 13th anniversary of 9-11 next year.
Beach Fire Chief Darren White thanked all for attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the fire district's memorial, a lasting tribute to all men and women that lost their lives during the infamous day.
Fire, Town and contracting officials break ground at Fire Station #33.
"As fire chief of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District, it is my distinct honor and privilege to announce the district's construction efforts of a memorial to the thousands of victims who lost their lives on one of the most tragic days in American history," he said. "This monument will serve as a symbol of this great nation's resiliency, and an ideal way to honor the memories of the close to 3,000 lives that were lost that tragic September day.
Fundraising efforts to build the memorial are underway. The District is accepting donations to financially support the project. Contact Beach Fire Assistant Chief Tom May at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-5715 if interested in purchasing an engraved permanent brick that will be displayed at the memorial site.
"I want to encourage all District residents and visitors to please take an active role in the support of this worthwhile effort," said White. "This memorial monument belongs to our community, therefore, communal support is essential to the success of this project."
Beach Mayor Alan Mandel said a few words of remembrance and congratulations to Beach Fire for the district's memorial efforts before Capt. Ron Martin gave a brief history of how the vision of the monument memorial came to be.
FMB Fire Medical Officer Capt. Randy Kraus, a New York City native and paramedic/first responder in that city at the time of the terrorist attacks, sent a written inquiry to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey once I-beam sections of the World Trade Center wreckage were declared artifacts and made available. When he was approved to pick up two 30"-16"-16" I-beams pieces, he traveled with Martin and White to transport them back to Fort Myers Beach. Three pieces of one beam are on display at Fire Station #31, Fire Station #32 and the Fire Administration Building and the other will be used in the erection of the memorial at Fire Station #33.
"I want to remind you of three dates: Aug. 24, 1814, the date that the British government ordered the burning of the U.S. Capitol; Dec. 7, 1941, the date that lived in infamy when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; and Sept. 11, 2001. All three dates are dates that are significant in our history as Americans, because those dates all transformed the lands in which we view the World," said Martin. "This project has been two years in the making. I am proud to see it come together. It will serve as a constant reminder not only of the lives that were lost that day but the resiliency that this nation is great for."
Bill Boulton and Brian Sullivan of Boulton Construction are volunteering their services to design, plan, build and help with fundraising efforts for the construction of the memorial.
"We are honored to erect this memorial," said Sullivan. 'We guarantee that everything we can do and everything we will do will make this a perfect monument in remembrance of all of those that passed away on 9-11."