Remembering 9/11 More Important In 11th Year

By  //  September 12, 2012

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Trauma, Health Remain Issues For Survivors

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – When retired New York City policeman Tommy Redmond left the stage after speaking on the importance of remembering the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of attendees of the 9/11 memorial at Wickham Park Pavilion at Brevard Community College stood in unison to applaud.

First responder Marco Calderone gives a graphic recount of his experience as a then-NYC cop pulling bodies and parts of bodies from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, while emcee Jackie Colon watches. (Image by Linda Wiggins)

“With each year that passes it becomes even more important that we don’t forget the pain and loss Americans suffered at the hands of those murderers,” said Redmond, whose father before him and two sons after him are among “NYPD’s finest.”

The recollections and feelings expressed by speakers and attendees, many of whom were survivors of attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, or who lost a loved one on redirected Flight 83, ran from graphic to solemn.

Exploding glass fragments, dust and debris filled the air in a cloud of ash that spanned far past Ground Zero, and many first responders, survivors escaping the buildings, as well as members of the clean-up crew will have life-long chronic respiratory illnesses and post-trauma mental illness.

Survivors told of loud thuds all around the building that they later realized were the impacts of bodies of people who either jumped in desperation or fell, reaching terminal velocity from as high as 100-plus stories.

The Color Guard brings forward the American flag to kick off the 11th anniversary memorial of the 9/11 terrorist attack tragedies at the Wickham Park Pavilion at Brevard Community College on Tuesday, Sept. 11, the same day of the week it occurred on in 2001. (Image by Linda Wiggins)

Can’t forget

“We can’t forget the blood spilled on our soil and the tragedy that continues today with our men and women at war in Afghanistan taking the fight to the enemy so it doesn’t again happen here,” said Marco Calderon, immediate past president of the 10-13 Club of Brevard County, a group made up of retired NYC cops like him and current and retired members of all police forces.

Calderon was a first responder and recalled scenes too graphic to repeat. Tears streamed down the faces of some of the survivors transported back to the scene by the details.

The 10-13 Club is so named for the distress calls that filled the airwaves throughout the day of 9/11, which means, “Officer down, needs assistance.”

The group holds an annual 9/11 memorial, last year partnering with an association of churches in Suntree and Viera, and Vietnam Veterans of America’s Brevard Chapter to host Brevard Remembers 9/11 at Space Coast Stadium, bringing the community together to mark the decade milestone.

Changing of the guard occurred repeatedly to honor wreathes representing fallen firefighters, police, military and civilians lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, remnants of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, tribute panels listing the names of the dead. (Image by Linda Wiggins)

Brevard connection

Many first responding firefighters and police officers, as well as survivors from the WTC and Pentagon, relocated to Brevard County in great numbers for a variety of reasons.

Some were directed to a warmer climate without the NYC smog for health reasons, and chose to move here. Others simply decided to retire early and leave the area, many reporting that they no longer wished to have the daily reminders that the landmarks brought.

Patrick Air Force Base and other local military division posts, the U.S. manned and unmanned space programs at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, all seem to be magnets for both domestic and military retired forces. Many joined the Armed Forces or served as reserves post 9/11, deploying repeatedly to the Middle East, returning to Brevard County to retire.

Former WTC worker Jackie Colon, a Brevard County Commissioner at the time of 9/11 who returned from a workplace reunion the day before the tragedy is among that demographic as a Navy wife.

“For some reason, for many reasons, this anniversary means a lot to so many of us on the Space Coast, with so many of us suffering a direct loss,” said Colon, emcee of the 11th anniversary memorial. “No matter how much it hurts, no matter how we would rather be any place else but here, we have to show up and make that day matter, and make sure that day continues to matter.”