A rainstorm forced the City of Palm Coast’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony indoors. But it did not diminish the event.
The ceremony was scheduled to be held at Heroes Memorial Park on the evening of Sept. 11. Instead, it was held inside Fire Station 21, down the block.
Music and moving tributes highlighted the evening.
The Palm Coast Professional Firefighters Local 4807 dedicated the Survivor Tree memorial plaque, which stands next to the Survivor Tree that was planted at Heroes Memorial Park a year ago.
The Palm Coast Survivor Tree was a seedling from the Callery pear tree discovered in the rubble of ground zero a month after the attacks on the World Trade Center 21 years ago. The tree was nursed back to health and replanted at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum site in 2010.
Seedlings from the tree have been distributed around the world since 2013. The Palm Coast tree, No. 725, was donated by the St. Augustine Fire Department to the Palm Coast Fire Department.
“The Survivor Tree is a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth,” said retiring Palm Coast Fire Chief Jerry Forte.
Mayor David Alfin presented Forte with the 2022 Tunnel to Towers Foundation Follow the Footsteps Award for his 32 years of service to the city.
The foundation is a charitable organization founded in tribute of New York City Fire Department firefighter Stephen Siller, who sacrificed his life to save others during the 9/11 attacks.
“Thank you everybody for this honor,” said Forte, who honored legacy firefighters in his remarks. Legacy firefighters are those who follow their parents into service.
“The Survivor Tree is a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.”
— JERRY FORTE, retiring Palm Coast fire chief
“It’s not unusual to see the bravery of these families run deep,” Forte said. “Palm Coast firefighters celebrate legacy firefighters as we watch our children follow in our footsteps.
“Rest assured, someone is answering the call day and night,” Forte said. “The faces may change, but thanks to legacy firefighters, some names will remain the same.”
Alfin thanked the St. Augustine Fire Department for sharing a Survival Tree seedling with Palm Coast.
“I hope one day there will be 2,977 new leaves on the tree for all the souls who lost their lives on 9/11,” he said.
“May God bless the victims of 9/11 and their families. And may God bless America,” Alfin concluded.