By Tamas Mondovics
Joining a nationwide event that marked the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) held its own memorial ceremony on September 11, 2014 at 8:25 a.m., which included the unveiling the 9/11 Fallen Heroes Memorial.
Dozens of first responders, law enforcement officials, along with County government representatives and area residents gathered for the event held at the Malcolm Beard Sheriff’s Operations Center in Ybor City, where the Memorial now pays a permanent tribute to the victims, survivors and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks.
The memorial includes a beam which was recovered from ground zero of the World Trade Center Tower 2. Also incorporated in the display is a lifelike sculpture “Fearless Champions” by artist Becky Ault. This sculpture represents the first responders and survivors of the tragic day. The unveiling ceremony matched the approximate time the first plane piloted by terrorists struck the first tower.
“We are gathered today to remember a day that began as a peaceful beautiful day, that ended in tragedy, but united our spirit and taught the world a lesson,” Germaise told all present. “We must never forget those that perished and those that continue to suffer.”
Throughout the ceremony, Idlewild Baptist Church Orchestra performed choral renditions by a local children’s chorus, while all in attendance paused for a moment of silence at the exact time that each plane hit the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the time that Flight 93 crashed into an empty field in Western Pennsylvania.
At the end of the day, 2,977 innocent people lost their lives, including 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. Nearly all of the victims were civilians; 55 military personnel were among those killed at the Pentagon. A total of 411 emergency workers died as they tried to rescue people and fight fires.
Commenting on what the 9/11 Fallen Heroes Memorial means to the community, guest speaker, Retired United States Navy Captain Jeff Cathey said, “This memorial is a fitting representation to the freedoms that we enjoy. Our first responders turned these words into action.”
“Our country changed, but became united,” Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said. “It is my hope that this memorial will help us to remain united even as we are facing new threats.”
For more information about the memorial , visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.