A flag that has flown at Ground Zero will be on display at the city’s Sept. 11 ceremony.
John Pickard thought he was going on a rescue mission when he led a crew from a fire station in Mantua Township, N.J., to Ground Zero, less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Dressed in full fire gear, Pickard and other volunteers walked the concrete, while cadaver dogs searched for signs of life. When the K-9s appeared to find a scent, a horn would sound.
“The whole area came to a complete standstill, and we started digging,” he said. “We thought we were going to do rescue. Unfortunately, it was all recovery.”
When President George W. Bush visited the site that week in 2001, crews bulldozed the 2-foot layer of concrete and debris to clear a path. Pickard said he didn’t realize there was a road under his feet the whole time.
“I saw painted lines in the street rising up, and I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
Pickard has since retired, and he moved to Palm Coast two years ago. But the images of the 10 days he spent at the site where the World Trade Center once stood have not dimmed in his mind. Ever since, he has worked to help others remember, as well.
The city of Palm Coast will host a ceremony 8:30 a.m. Sept. 11, at Heroes Park, to remember the 2,976 people who died 10 years ago, in the attacks on the United States.
This year, the ceremony will also feature a flag that was provided by Pickard, who joined a group of 2,670 motorcycles to ride from Daytona Beach to each of the attack sites.
He said firemen and other residents cheered from each overpass up the East Coast, as the motorcade cruised underneath.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Pickard said. “Going to New York City — it’s like going to the Vietnam Wall for people. It’s a healthy thing. People go there to pray.”
Pickard flew two U.S. flags and two honor guard flags at the sites, and the America’s 9/11 Foundation (see www.Americas911Foundation.org) presented wreaths. The flags were presented to Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle at a pre-9/11 ceremony Sept. 2, at Heroes Park.
The flags will fly Sept. 11, in various locations around the city. One flag will be displayed permanently at Station 24, well.
EVENTS TO REMEMBER SEPT. 11
Reflections of Sept. 11 — 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Flagler County Public Library, 2500 Palm Coast Parkway. Hosted by firefighters Brandon Seymour and Patrick Juliano.
Sept. 11 Commemorative Event — 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Heroes Park, 2860 Palm Coast Parkway. A special presentation of colors will be presented by the Palm Coast and Flagler County fire departments, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the New York Fire and Police Departments. Commemorative speeches and a musical presentation from the Flagler Youth Orchestra will follow.
9/11 Memorial Dedication Ceremony — 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Palm Coast Elks Lodge, 53 Old Kings Road N. The Elks will unveil a monument featuring two steel beams from the World Trade Center. There also will be a flag-raising ceremony and blessing.
2011 Memorial Ride — 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bunnell. Following a ceremony at 10:30, kickstands will be up at 11:15 a.m. for the 67-mile, police-escorted ride, ending at the White Eagle Lounge. Visit www.memorialrun911.com.
Give to Remember Blood Drive — noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Woody’s Bar-B-Q, 99 Flagler Plaza Drive. Hosted by the Jason DeLorenzo Campaign.
Cry Out America Prayer Circle — 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Flagler County Courthouse, 1769 E. Moody Blvd. Prayer rally in memory of Sept. 11 victims. Call 437-5741.
Sept. 11 Memorial Concert — 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 156 N. Florida Park Drive. Presented by the Community Chorus of Palm Coast. The concert will feature songs of remembrance, compassion and hope. Donations accepted for the New York City 9/11 Memorial Site Fund. Call 569-8657.
Candlelight Vigil — 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at AMVETS Post 113, 500 State St., Bunnell. The event will include the post’s rifle squad, bagpipes and fire and police representatives.