9-11 ceremonies set
By MEGHAN McCOY
Many ceremonies are being held in Lee County this weekend to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9-11.
Sharee Thieleman, a retired American Airlines attendant and a member of the American Airlines Kiwi Club Suncoast Chapter, said A Day of Remembrance – which will be held at Rumrunners at Cape Harbour Sunday – began because of communications she had with a United Airlines and Delta flight attendant.
A luncheon was held five years ago to get everyone together to share their stories about 9-11. The session quickly snowballed as police and fire wanted to be involved in the ceremony as well.
The women went to numerous memorials following Sept. 11, 2001 and realized that they never mentioned the airline crews and passengers.
“We wanted one to tell our stories,” she said about the inception of A Day of Remembrance ceremony.
Since 9-11, Thieleman said she has run into so many amazing people who still have a need to express what unfolded that day 10 years ago, which is why the event is still being held.
The ceremony provides individuals the opportunity to express their feelings and tell the true story because there is so much misinformation on the internet and people saying horrible things.
“We want people to know what actually happened,” Thieleman said.
The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday so it could be held during the time frame in which everything happened on Sept. 11, 2001. She said the specific times of impact will be addressed during the event.
This year there will be 11 vessels in the water as the rose ceremony is conducted at the end of the memorial. Thieleman said bagpipers play as everyone walks to the end of the boardwalk and throws a white rose into the water to represent all the different groups of people.
“It is a beautiful setting and a beautiful place for it,” she said. “Everyone is remembered, even the K9 dog.”
A white dove release also will be held at the end of the ceremony.
Those honored during the ceremony will include fallen heroes of the FDNY, NYPD, New York Port Authority Police, private EMTs and paramedics, military personnel and civilians of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Crew members and passengers who lost their lives on American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93 also will be honored.
The ceremony will include a variety of guest speakers whose lives were impacted by the events that changed America.
Thieleman was on her first day of vacation 10 years ago when the terrorist attacks occurred in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. She said she was asleep when her husband turned on the television and saw the sight many Americans will never forget.
When Thieleman saw the massive amount of smoke, which was followed by the second plane that hit the World Trade Center she went straight for the computer to look up which flight attendants were on the flight.
“American had already taken information from certain flights off,” she said, adding that information is taken off when a problem occurs.
She took an early retirement from American Airlines in 2002 after the events of 9-11 because everything changed. Her career as a flight attendant began in 1973.
“We were told that it would never be the same,” Thieleman said.
The first few weeks after the attacks occurred, Thieleman remembered being very emotional because of the changes, along with doing everything she could to prepare.
On one of the first flights after 9-11, she remembered having six Middle Eastern names on the list of those onboard for a long-haul flight.
“It was a little nerve wracking, so you had to prepare in case,” she said. “You couldn’t deny anyone boarding because of their name.”
Thinking back on the 9-11 attacks, Thieleman still gets very emotional about it.
Although she thinks adjustments are being made to the extreme security at airports and on airplanes, she believes the service level they were all trained to provide will be hard to get back.
Another ceremony will be held in the Cape at VFW Post 8463 on Sunday at noon to honor those lives that were lost on 9-11.
Joe DiGregorio said he has held the event since 2002 because he was a firefighter in New York for 20 years and knows what the job entailed.
He lost a nephew at the World Trade Center that day 10 years ago and has a son who offered his services to help find those who were missing.
DiGregorio said his son, who was a firefighter for 20 years and still lives in New York, offered his services to clean up the World Trade Center after he retired.
“I just don’t want anyone to forget,” DiGregorio said about why he holds the event.
The ceremony will include posting of Colors, the National Anthem and Amazing Grace, guest speakers, a 21- gun salute, taps and a wreath presentation.
* Remember 9-11 Tenth Year at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Although there is no charge to attend, reservations are required by calling 239-278-4422. The program will include a continental breakfast and artist Leoma Lovegrove will Paint Out Loud on stage, while creating a billboard sized canvas of the American Bald Eagle. A moving ceremony will be held at 12:30 p.m. to honor the heroes of that day.
n 10th anniversary of 9-11 Blood Drive and American Red Cross Fundraiser will be held at Sun Sports Cycle and Watercraft, 3441 Colonial Blvd. today from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Old Navy at Page Field.
* Fort Myers Harley Davidson will hold a Rib Rockin’ Rodeo on Sept. 11 from noon-5 p.m. with all proceeds going towards local heroes in law, fire, EMS and military.
Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 12.