TAMPA, Fla. — It's been 18 years since the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001.
Almost 3,000 people were killed when 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States.
Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third hit the Pentagon and the fourth crashed in a field in Shanksville, PA.
To honor the victims, first responders and heroes of that day, events are being held nationwide as well as here in the Tampa Bay area:
- USF Sarasota-Manatee - September 11 at 8:20 a.m. - Campus Center, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
-The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will remember victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and pay tribute to survivors, first responders and members of the military with a special ceremony in the campus courtyard on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The remembrance is free, open to the public and will include 2,977 small flags, one for each victim, planted into the lawn of the campus courtyard.
- Madeira Beach - September 11 at 8:45 a.m. - 9/11 Memorial in Causeway Park, 424 150th Ave.
-The ceremony will feature an opening prayer by Pastor Rick Cowley of the CrossBridge Church, comments from Madeira Beach Mayor Maggie Black, City Manager Robert Daniels, Fire Chief Derryl O’Neal and a wreath ceremony by the the Madeira Beach Fire Department. Students from Pinellas County Schools will present “Faces of September 11th” and the Madeira Beach Fire Department will perform a Wreath Laying Ceremony. The event will conclude with a closing prayer by Dr. Jeff Iskra of the Church by the Sea.
- Tampa Fire Rescue - September 11 at 9 a.m. - Tampa Firefighters Museum located at 720 E. Zack St. in Tampa
-Members of the Tampa City Council and representatives from local Fire/EMS and law enforcement agencies will join master of ceremonies Fire Chief Nick LoCicero in honoring the men and women who died on 9/11. The ceremony will last about 20 minutes.
- Hillsborough County - September 11 at 9 a.m. - Veterans Resource Center on the grounds of Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins, Jr., Veterans Museum, 3602 U.S. 301 N. in Tampa.
- First responders and military members will lead the tribute to lives lost and sacrifices made as a result of the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001. In addition to keynote speakers from U.S. Central Command and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, the ceremony will include a solemn escort and procession of a piece of a steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center twin towers. The 135-pound section of solid steel is part of the Veterans Museum collection.
- Curlew Gardens - September 11 at 10 a.m. - Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, 1750 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor.
- Patrick Anderson, a 9/11 survivor will be the keynote speaker at the event which will feature 9/11 artwork from children from Sutherland Elementary, Ozona Elementary. The 9-11 Essay Contest winner will read the winning essay on the theme “How Did 9-11 Impact Our Nation.” Florida Senator Ed Hooper and Florida House Representative Chris Sprowls will also address the crowd. The National Anthem will be given by retired retired airwoman Sonya Bryson-Kirksey.
- Tampa Bay Blue mass - September 11 at 1:30 p.m. - St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, 17512 Lakeshore Rd, Lutz.
- The 4th annual BLUE Mass is an Ecumenical and Interfaith event to honor the men and women serving the Tampa Bay region as Firefighters, EMTs, Sheriff Deputies, Police Officers, Troopers, Special Agents, Security Professionals and 911 Operators. The guest speaker is Brenda Marrero, sister of fallen Tampa Police Officer Lois Marie Marrero.
- Flag Planting Ceremony - September 11 at 5 p.m. - SPC Allstate Center, 3200 34th St. S.
- As a tribute for the 18th anniversary of 9/11, The Camaraderie Foundation will be planting 13,000 American flags at the SPC Allstate Center. They are looking for volunteers to assist with planting the flags on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. and picking them up on Sept. 14 at 8:30 p.m. This effort will acknowledge more than 13,000 veterans, law enforcement and firefighters who have post-traumatic stress disorder or other invisible wounds of war. To volunteer, click here.
- Honoring our Heroes - September 11 at 6:30 p.m. - Central Park in Downtown Winter Haven
-The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. featuring the Freedom Walk to honor all Military, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters and EMS heroes, followed by a moving service that will pay tribute to all heroes who call Polk County home. The evening will culminate with a sunset luminary service as every attendee holds a candle in honor of all of our heroes. (Candles will be provided.)
- New Port Richey Memorial Gathering - September 11 at 7 p.m. - Sims Park in Downtown New Port Richey
- A video presentation by Victoria Kikis will be showing prior to the start of the Memorial Program. The Presentation of Colors will come from Pasco County and the City of New Port Richey followed by Louis Kikis, NYFD (Ret.) and Joe Sprows NYPD (Ret.) leading the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Heather Lynn Mendoza singing the National Anthem. The New Port Richey Fire Department and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office will then Post the Colors. Prayers led by Fr. Olesily Nebesnyk, Pastor St. Anne’s Byzantine Church, Brian Brown, Head Chaplain Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Rabbi Yossi Eber Chanda Jewish Center of West Pasco, will help us to see the light of hope from this dark day, while local school children from Odessa Elementary School and Mitchell High school in conjunction with Seven springs Middle School will be sharing their voices to uplift our spirits. For those that come early, the Sheriff’s Office Posse , Military vehicles and the artwork of local students will be on view at this historical event as well as 9/11 memorabilia. Local Boy Scouts will be passing out bottled water and artwork from local schools will be on display.