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9/11 remembrance at the Shell Factory also highlights Americans coming together

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Sep 13, 2021

Members of the Cape Coral Fire Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office line up as the LCSO Honor Guard presents the colors during the 9-11 remembrance event at the Shell Factory on Saturday. Chuck Ballaro

Many of the remembrances of Sept. 11, 2001 in Southwest Florida were solemn affairs, filled with ritual, self-reflection and the mantra of “never forget.”

Understandable, as that day was one of the darkest in American history.

And while the 20th anniversary remembrance at the Shell Factory on Saturday had its serious moments, it was more a celebration of what happened in the aftermath, where the nation came together and showed what was the best in Americans.

Pam Cronin, owner of the Shell Factory, wanted the event to be a happier occasion while also respecting upon those who lost their lives that day.

“The beauty of this is the American spirit. We stepped up, made amends, took care of everything and we’re back proud to be Americans again,” Cronin said. “Every one of our first responders stepped up and said they want to be here. We try to be good community citizens and they have stepped up.”

The event was held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the band Pure Country providing the live entertainment.

But the main event was the ceremony that started at 12:16 p.m., the time at which the U.S. government stopped all planes flying across America, featuring several local dignitaries and hosted by NBC2 news anchor Peter Busch.

Members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Cape Coral Fire Department lined up as the LCSO Color Guard presented the Colors and played “Taps.”

There was an LCSO helicopter flyover and another helicopter on the ground from the Lee County Mosquito Control District and the National Anthem from Sase Smith.

Among the speakers were State Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, State Attorney Amira Fox, Cape Coral Councilmember Jennifer Nelson and County Commissioner Brian Hamman, who brought a proclamation from the County Commission.

Persons-Mulicka said it was an honor to celebrate family and remember those whose lives were lost that day.

“For those who witnessed that day in real time, we will never forget where we were or how we felt,” Persons-Mulicka said. “We will never forget the lives of those we lost. Their legacy will live on forever. It is because of their sacrifice that we continue to build and fight for the American dream.”

Hamman, who spoke at the Brotherhood of Heroes Museum in Cape Coral earlier that day, noted the country’s coming together.

“Today we need to be together and comfort each other. Each of us have different memories of that day, but we all remember how we became Americans, how we came together and supported each other,” Hamman said. “This day gives us a chance to recapture that spirit and think about why we love our country.”