Pamela Reed greeted Manatee County first responders like she was one of their own.
With her 19-year-old daughter Donna nearby, she held a bouquet of flowers close to her as she gave out hugs to the those she knew by way of her late husband, West Manatee firefighter Brian Reed, who Pamela said was known around the station as “MacGyver” after the popular TV series.
It had been 15 years since Brian passed, and 15 years since the nearly 3,000 were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
Pamela and Donna Reed attend the Tribute to Heroes memorial service for the first responders of 9/11 every year, but for the first time this year they were personally recognized at the event near the Riverwalk Emergency Services Memorial, where Brian has a plaque in his honor.
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Although Brian died in the line of duty before 9/11 on April 10, 2001, when he was electrocuted and fell from a ladder while working on a light fixture at West Manatee Fire Station 2, Pamela said she was surprised she was recognized for the first time and appreciated the gesture.
About 100 citizens and first responders attended the event, where the Manatee County Honor Guard presented colors and arms and speakers gave speeches from local fire departments, emergency management services, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the American Airlines Kiwi Club, a nonprofit group of current and former airline employees.
“I think heroism is courage despite consequences,” Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said.
He encouraged anyone who hasn’t to visit the World Trade Center memorial in New York.
“You stand there and you look into your waters, then your head’s bowed, then you feel the tears; that’s the remembrance,” he said. “But when you look at that mirrored tower in the sky, that’s the resurection.”
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Bob Mealy talked about the “ultimate sacrifice.”
“It wasn’t just those in uniform who performed heroic acts,” Mealy said, talking about the passengers who overtook the United 93 flight that crashed in Pennyslvania. “We cannot let these sacrifices go in vain.”
As the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10141 performed a 21-gun salute and 21 doves were released into the air, bagpipers played the traditional “Going Home” for fallen heroes and “Amazing Grace.”
“For me, it gets harder every single year,” Donna said, who was 3 when her father passed away. Her mother added she looks just like Brian.
“It means a lot to me for people to remember,” Pamela said.