Feature Story and Photos By Larry H. Oskin
The city of Groveland observed the twentieth anniversary of 9-11 with a memorial ceremony at Lake David Park. The community gathered early Friday evening at Groveland’s monthly second Friday night Farmer’s Market, but the mood promptly became somber as the Memorial service began.
The Groveland 9-11 memorial service was opened by Chief Smith of the Groveland Fire Department. Chaplain Darrell Sheeley, Chaplain for Groveland Police and Fire Departments delivered the opening invocation. The presentation of colors was presented by the South Lake High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps — NJROTC, directed by Lieutenant Colonel John Pylant.
Musician Linda Charlton marched forward playing “343, The Fallen” on the bagpipes by the
Red Hot Chili Pipers. The entire audience stood for the National Anthem, which was performed by 60 members of the South Lake High School Screaming Eagles Band and directed by Ryan Wright. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by David Badillo.
A series of touching commentaries were presented by Groveland Fire Chief Kevin Carroll, Groveland Police Chief Shawn Ramsey and Chaplain for the Clermont and Mount Dora Police and Fire Departments and retired NYPD detective Michael Saxe. Each speaker shared his own personal experiences of the day with touching memories.
Groveland Mayor, Evelyn Wilson noted, “I’m very honored to come together with all of you in solidarity over this tragic chapter in our nation’s history. The events that took place on September 11th changed our sense of security and challenged our connectivity as a nation. Most of us can vividly recall watching in horror as the unimaginable became a visceral reality in our lives. And when the towers fell, our hearts followed. It caused us to reflect upon our values and willingness to see our neighbors as brothers and sisters, joined by a sudden and desperate need for hope. Today, it is our honor to memorialize the sacred 2,997 lives lost on that day. Aside from being passengers, first responders, and service members, those who lost their lives were also family members, someone’s best friend, and the love of someone’s life. What we do at this moment, honors them for all they were, and all they continue to be in our memories. May we never forget their sacrifice that led to a more united nation.”
The speeches and presentations were followed by “God Bless America”, sung by Joe Fitzpatrick. A version of “God Bless The USA” was played by the All-Star Rock Live Band.
A ceremonial 9-11 remembrance wreath-laying was then shared by the Trilogy Orlando Veterans Association. Closing prayers were presented by Dr. Tony McCoy, Senior Pastor for Hope International Church. Everyone again proudly stood together to honor those lost in 9-11 with a special bell salute and Taps played by the SLHS NJROTC and Band under the direction of John Pylant. At the conclusion, local bagpiper Linda Charlton played “Amazing Grace”.