Emergency Services of Polk County and the Polk County Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team, as well as local emergency services personnel, will conduct at 3 p.m., on Sunday, Sept. 11, “A Day of Reflection,” what is sure to be a moving 10th anniversary commemoration of the tragic deaths of 453 firefighters and other emergency services personnel who died because of their efforts at the World Trade Center Twin Towers catastrophe in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001.
In the banquet hall at Lake Eva Park in Haines City, 799 Johns Ave., 453 candles will be lighted to remember and honor each of those heroes. The program also includes music, speeches, and reading of a poem.
This “Day of Reflection” is open to the public. Emergency services personnel of all stripes are invited as special guests. The program is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and last for about one-and-a-quarter hours.
Two of Haines City’s finest are featured on the program. Lt. Keva Harris will sing “Amazing Grace,” and Cpl. Angela Stewart will sing the national anthem.
Both are Haines City police officers. Tonja Clyatt of the Florida Department of Corrections will sing “I’m Proud to Be an American.” Benjamin Pugh of Polk County Fire and Rescue will play the bagpipes.
A tradition called “The Tolling of the Bells” will be sounded out. According to Lt. Nancy Gutierrez of Polk County Fire and Rescue, the group coordinating the day’s events, this tradition grew out of the very old practice of ringing whatever number of bells denoted the area of the city in which the fire was burning. Upon the firefighters’ return to home base, they would ring three sets of three bells each. This nine-bell set became a practice at the funerals of firefighters. It symbolized their “coming home,” said Gutierrez.
Speakers will include keynote speaker Diane Fojt, CEO of Crisis Management, Inc; Polk County Manager Jim Freeman; Polk County Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Lunsford; and Auburndale Fire Chief Samuel Efurd.
Steve Pugh of Polk County Fire and Rescue will read “A Firefighter’s Dream,” a poem written by Robert McCall.
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