LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Garrett Lindgren will never forget Sept. 11, 2001.
The retired New York firefighter said it's been on his mind every day since.
"I had just gotten off duty that morning," Lindgren said. "Everyone I had coffee with that morning was killed. For those of us who actually were there, it's a horror that is never going to leave us."
Lindgren hopes to keep the memories of his fallen comrades and the tragic events of that day alive in the minds of others. He will be the guest speaker at the annual "Lakewood Ranch Remembers 9-11" event, which starts at 8:45 a.m. Sept. 11 at Manatee Technical Institute's East Campus.
Lindgren is vice president of FDNY Suncoast Florida Retirees, a group of about 60 former firefighters, most who worked in New York and now live in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.
It's the second straight year Lindgren, 55, has been asked to speak at the public remembrance ceremony in front of MTI's students, many of whom will go on to become first responders.
"What I try to do is give them a brief idea of what it was like to be a New York City firefighter that morning," he said. "I try to explain to them as best I can that it doesn't matter where in this country you work in the emergency services field. The fact is, terrorism can happen anywhere. It doesn't have to be airliners into buildings. In our modern-day world, there's always going to be crazies who hate people for one reason or another."
Some MTI students were only children when 9/11 occurred -- a fact not lost on Lindgren, whose own children were in eighth grade and high school on that fateful day.
"They both remember the day because they spent the bulk of the day thinking I had been killed, because there was no cell service,"
It was almost midnight before he could get through to his wife to tell her he was alive.
This year's ceremony will be a bit more muted than a larger observation held two years ago at the Premier Sports Campus on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, said Lori Basilone, director of Lakewood Ranch community activities.
"It's really a short gathering where they can just come out, share in the moment of silence, and give respect to our flag and our country," Basilone said.
Following the MTI remembrance, Lindgren's group of fellow retirees will convene at Lakewood Ranch Main Street at 11 a.m. for another remembrance. The public is invited there, too.
"We felt it was our responsibility to carry this on and put on a remembrance on behalf of our group," he said.
"Really, everyone in the group lost personal friends, family or children of guys who they worked with years ago. It's very near and dear to our hearts, as it is to firefighters all over the nation, and all over the world."
Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor, can be reached at 941-745-7011. You can follow him on Twitter Lakewood Ranch Remembers 9-11
When: 8:45-9:15 a.m. Sept. 11
Where: MTI East Campus, 5520 Lakewood Ranch Blvd,, Lakewood Ranch
Also: FDNY Suncoast Florida Retirees will host a public remembrance at 11 a.m. on Lakewood Ranch Main Street following the MTI ceremony