Veterans Memorial Center plans special 9/11 event


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Disabled U.S. Air Force veteran Cynthia Sturgill pauses to read the plaque at the Veterans Memorial Center's 9/11 Monument.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy of Roger Scruggs

On Sept. 11, 2001 — 17 years ago — the United States was attacked by terrorists.

The nation grieved the loss of those who died in New York City, in Washington, D.C. and in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

In 2019, there will be very few high school seniors in the U.S. who were alive when our country was attacked on that fateful day.

Next month, in October, will mark the 17th year since U.S. forces took our fight to the planning and staging bases in Afghanistan.

While not formally declared, the fight in Afghanistan already is the longest war in American history, and more than 1.3 million members of our Armed Forces have served there in the battle against terrorism.

For these reasons and many more, the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center, in partnership with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and other first responders, plans a unique ceremony on Patriot Day.

“When planning for the ceremony began in May, the VMC leadership wanted to be mindful of other such ceremonies held in Viera and elsewhere in Brevard, so they decided to host theirs in the afternoon that day, after school was out to encourage young people to attend and because other events are held in the morning or evening,” said Donn Weaver, chairman of the Brevard Veterans Council and VMC vice president and special projects coordinator. “It is a tradition the center hopes will continue each year.  The VMC event has a major theme beyond what most such ceremonies feature.”

 

Weaver said the VMC also will honor the service and sacrifice of those from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and all volunteers who took the fight beginning that October.

“They have been fighting in dozens of countries around the world since then,” Weaver said. “Their actions have no doubt prevented more attacks on American soil. More than twice as many Americans have died in direct combat operations since that day than perished at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa.  Thousands more have also fallen as the result of military service or been severely wounded during their deployments.”

The Patriot Day ceremony will be held from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Veterans Memorial Center behind the Merritt Square Mall. The ceremony will begin at the 9/11 Monument in the plaza. Drinks and refreshments will follow in Gray Hall.

Special guest speakers include Cape Canaveral Port Commission chairman and retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Wayne Justice, who was at the Pentagon the day of the attack, and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. Other speakers will include those who were in New York City or at the Pentagon that day in 2001, as well as those who served and lost friends, relatives and family members in the battlefields of Afghanistan.

Robert W. Doyle, VMC operations and security director, said the center plans on continuing this ceremony in years to come.

“People were concerned that there was no event,” he said. “We are going to make sure we never forget in Brevard County and Central Florida. We want people to remember those first responders and military heroes whose lives changed and whose sacrifices began that day.”

The event is co-sponsored by the VMC and the Brevard County Sheriff Office.

For more information, contact the VMC at 321-453-1776 or go to veteransmemorialcenter.org