Fire bell tolls to remember lives lost on 9-11

On Sunday, Historic City News reporters were on hand, as the City of St. Augustine continued its annual tradition of presenting a community gathering to remember those who died in the terrorist attacks against America on September 11, 2001.

Over two hundred members of the public attended the annual ceremony; held for the first time at the city’s main fire station. This year’s ceremony concluded the with the ringing of the city’s 1902 fire bell by Bill Brennock; a retired New York City firefighter who was on duty on the day of the attacks and retired to St. Augustine with his family three years ago.

The city’s first Ceremony of Remembrance was held just two days after the attack in 2001. It has continued each year on the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and in the skies over America.

City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline conducted yesterday’s ceremony which included a presentation of the colors by the St. Augustine Police Department Honor Guard, an invocation by Matt Mitchell, Chaplain, St. Augustine Police Department, comments from St. Augustine Fire Chief Mike Arnold and musical presentations by Bob Patterson.

As part of her remarks, Commissioner Sikes-Kline read a letter from John Mica, the 7th Congressional District’s Representative:

Thank you for joining together in memory of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Each of us who remember the attack on our nation that day must continue working to insure that it never takes place again. While America faces a host of challenges today, I believe we always have and always can rise to the occasion.

Today Pat and I will be in Shankesville, Pennsylvania, as our country recognizes the Heroes of Flight 93 who bravely sacrificed their lives to save our nation’s Capitol. Let us all remember them, their loved ones and all who toil and serve our country. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

With my warmest regards and best wishes, I remain, John L. Mica.

Members of the St. Augustine Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors during the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the Ceremony of Remembrance.

The ceremony ended with a moment of silence at 8:45am, timed to coincide with the time the first plane hit the first tower of the World Trade Center in 2001.

As with previous ceremonies, the minute of silence ended with bell ringing, but this year making use of the historic fire bell recently restored and now displayed at the fire station. The bell originally hung in the fire station when it was located in the City Building on Hypolita Street. It was cast in 1900 and in 1902 was put in use at the same time the city installed its first full-time fire department.

The bell was donated to the St. Augustine Historical Society in 1986. Its restoration was the result of a partnership between the city, Flagler College, the University of Florida, and the St. Augustine Historical Society.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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