Several hundred students training to be first responders at the Lakewood Ranch campus of MTI received a simple challenge from retired New York firefighter Garrett Lindgren on Tuesday: "Are you ready?"
Lindgren said there is always a surprise for first responders who thought they had seen it all.
Terrorism, some of it homegrown such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., is a fact of life.
Tim Hyden, training officer for East Manatee Fire Rescue, who coordinated Tuesday's observance, said a key is to make the remembrance meaningful for young people and future generations.
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"It was 11 years ago today, at this hour. Most of us can recall the scenes being played out on live television , the images forever burned into our memories," Hyden said.
"My question to each of you today is, do we still appreciate and understand why we gather, as we are this morning, to commemorate and remember the day?" Hyden said.