LAKE PLACID — Scores of civilians and first responders from all over the county attended the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the American Legion Post 25. This year’s service went off without a hitch after last year’s memorial was canceled because of a storm called Irma.
Post 25 Cmdr. Robert Moore and Highlands County Safety Director Marc Bashoor were the primary speakers of the morning after Rev. Richard Norris gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office flag color guard presented the colors. Lake Placid Police Department, the county’s Emergency Operations Center staff, Sheriff Paul Blackman and his officers were all in attendance, as well as the Highlands County EMTs and firefighters. Highlands County Veteran Service Officer Denise Williams was in full military uniform for the service.
Lora Patton sang a patriotic song and “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Bashoor said he was just 10 miles away from the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. He read a poem from the perspective of a first responder rushing into one of the Twin Towers.
“We helped others live that day; they were going down as we were going up,” he read. “One by one, those buildings fell; 343 of my brethren firefighters, 72 of my brethren law enforcement officers, eight of my brethren paramedics and over 3,000 of my fellow citizens lost their lives that day.”
Bashoor presented a short movie with 911 calls as the background and still photographs of heroes pulling people out of the rubble and buildings. There weren’t many dry eyes in the room.
In full regalia that included a tartan kilt, Bob Campbell played “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes.
Kelly Gibson and Brandon Poynor are Highlands County firefighters stationed in Lake Placid who attended the memorial service. They explained how Sept. 11, 2001 shaped their lives and careers.
“I was in high school,” Poynor said. “It was the biggest tragedy in my life. That was when I knew I wanted to be a firefighter too. I will never forget 9/11.”
Gibson was younger but was also impacted by the coverage of the fateful day.
“I was in the fifth grade,” she said. “Now that I am a firefighter, I see things from a different perspective. I came today so I could honor my fellow brothers and sisters in uniform.”
The first responders lined up their emergency and patrol vehicles and with lights and sirens left the Post under police escort.
Moore was emotionally moved through the ceremony as his voice wavered a few times.
“It was a beautiful ceremony,” he said. “It’s not a veteran’s holiday per se but many of the first responders are veterans. We want to always show honor for our first responders.”
Sheriff Blackman watched his color guard with pride as they presented and lowered the colors during the memorial at the appropriate times.
“We remember where we were during Sept. 11,” he said. “We don’t want to forget the ultimate sacrifice they gave. We honor our first responders.”