BRADENTON — From 1775 through 9/11.
From the battles at Lexington and Concord, Mass., to Ground Zero.
Sacred dates and places in the timeline of our nation’s history.
At Friday’s Tribute to Heroes luncheon, Army Brig. Gen. Xavier P. Lobeto spoke poignantly about those events and the sacrifices made before a packed Bradenton Auditorium on the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
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Sacrifices made by firefighters, as well as soldiers.
“The zeal of Patrick Henry’s cry, ‘Give me liberty, or give me death,’ goes across the centuries in the actions of first-responders as well as military members aided by the national and spiritual values of 1776,” Lobeto said. “Since that time, they’ve displayed incredible courage and resilience and uncommon valor whether in the desert or the streets of America.”
His words resounded through the solemn auditorium.
On Lobeto’s left, a row of four helmets signified the catastrophic loss of service personnel — including 343 firefighters — at Ground Zero.
At the opposite end of the room hung a striking large charcoal rendering of the World Trade Center.
A wrenching video of CNN’s 9/11 coverage was also shown.
Lobeto’s message hit home with Garrett Lindgren.
“We stepped up when our nation was attacked,” said the retired New York firefighter who was at Ground Zero. “When people need help, we do it. That’s what America is about.”
Eight members of his Rescue Company 3 in the Bronx were killed.
“It was a fortunate day for me, but extremely tragic,” Lindgren said. “It’s overwhelming to me still. I’ll live with it forever.”
Yet, Friday’s memorial service, a time of remembrance and reflection, was important to him and his firefighting brethren in attendance. “It would trouble me greatly if I found out there were people in this country who chose to forget it. Or go on as if it’s just another day,” Lindgren said. “It’s not just another day and it is never going to be.”
Darrell Dunlap, another FDNY retiree and 9/11 veteran, agreed, touching on Lobeto’s historical theme.
“It was our Pearl Harbor, a tragic event of historical significance,” the Cape Coral resident said. “We should never forget it.”
Indeed, Leigh Hollins said.
“It’s important to do this every year,” said the Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue battalion chief. “Keep it in our hearts and honor those who sacrificed that day.”