Photo by the Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was hot, with a slight breeze from the St. Johns River, but about one hundred showed up at Metropolitan Park to pay tribute to those who lost their lives September 11, 2001.
"If we don't pay attention, then this will become something that happens every day," said Dr. Helen Jackson, "It can't be a part of our norm it has to be the exception."
For the past three years, Jackson and her organization, Women of Color Cultural Foundation, have gathered in Metro Park to honor and celebrate what happened that day.
"Your presence shows that appreciation," said Marty Senterfitt of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
The crowd heard songs of hope for the Edward Waters College Choir and songs of tribute from JFRD's Drum and Fife corps.
Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Jackson worked at the Duval County Health Department and said she remembers it like it was yesterday.
"The second one (jet) came and I said 'it can't be because I had a dream this morning of five attacks on America,'" said Jackson.
She said it was shock and horror.
Retired Rear Admiral Vic Guillory was a Captain in the Navy 12 years ago, stationed in San Diego. The anniversary of 9/11 is a painful reminder.
"I lost some ship mates in the Pentagon that day," he said, "while I was captain of one of the most powerful ships ever put to sea, I felt helpless."
During his speech at this day of tribute, he fought back tears as he recalled that Tuesday in September.
"Our heroes stepped forward, they ran forward into the towers to aid those in the immediate need of help and to restore order to a rapidly changing environment," he said.
Speaker after speaker echoed the same refrain remember the lives lost, the sacrifices made.
"We have to show the American public that we are united and that we're prepared so that it doesn't happen again anywhere, not in New York, not in Jacksonville, not anywhere," said Jackson.
While this was a day of tribute, it was also a day of service. The foundation delivered 220 care packages to the USO for the men and women who are now serving overseas, in areas like Afghanistan.
Food was also collected and delivered to help fight hunger here at home.
A day that for a few moments filled with pain, but that pale in comparison to the swell of patriotism.
First Coast News