20 years later: 7 ways to pay respects on anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks

Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and across the nation people will gather to remember the victims, the survivors, and the heroes of that day.

While the anniversary is a day of solemn remembrance, it is also a time when people come together to show their love and support for their kin, their communities, their country, and the many people who have risked and sacrificed serving at home and abroad.

Frommemory to history: How America will remember Sept. 11 on 20th anniversary

Spotlight on a local event:Fort Walton Police Department and partners hosting Sept. 11 ceremony on 20th anniversary

Here is a roundup of some of the remembrance events Saturday in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Crestview remembers 9/11

The city of Crestview will observe the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America with respect and solemnity through exhibits of early 2000s first responder equipment, displays, a dramatic presentation of survivors’ stories by Crestview High School Theatre Department students, and a Remembrance Dinner featuring a presentation of Spirits of 9/11 presented by Crestview police officers and firefighters.

Crestview firefighters listen during a ceremony marking the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The city of Crestview will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks Saturday

The event will be at the Crestview Community Center at 1446 Commerce Drive.

From noon to 5 p.m. the city will host an exhibition of typical first responder vehicles and gear, 9/11 imagery, scrolling lists of the attacks’ nearly 3,000 victims, and panels detailing the history of the attacks.

At 3 p.m., the Crestview High School Theatre Department will perform excerpts from the drama “110 Stories,” which share survivors' stories. The exhibits and student performance are free.

Previously:Crestview marks nineteenth anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks

The day concludes with a Remembrance Dinner, during which Crestview firefighters and police officers will represent fellow first responders who lost their lives at the World Trade Center in an original Crestview dramatic presentation called “Spirits of 9/11.”

Tickets to the dinner and the Spirits of 9/11" performance are $35. Tickets are available at Crestview City Hall, 198 N. Wilson St., the Community Center, or online at www.downtowncrestview.org/events (a $1 service fee is charged for online purchases).

DeFuniak Springs Fire Department 9/11 Tribute

The DeFuniak Springs Fire Department will host a 9/11 memorial ceremony 9 a.m. Saturday at the DeFuniak Springs Amphitheater at 1184 Circle Drive. The public is invited, and all first responders are encouraged to wear appropriate uniform and gear of choice.

The ceremony will begin with a moment of silence for the fallen responders during the terrorist attacks, as well as the civilians and members of the military who were killed in the attacks. Organizers will conclude the ceremony by leading a mile-long walk on Circle Drive with first responders and attendees.

DeFuniak Springs firefighters and other first responders march during a previous 9/11 remembrance.

This will be the eighth year first responders have met in DeFuniak Springs for the memorial ceremony. Questions about the ceremony may be directed to James Stultz of the DeFuniak Springs Fire Department at 850-401-8773.

Fort Walton Beach Fire Department ceremonial bell ringing

Join the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department in honoring the fallen heroes on the 20th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The public is invited to visit Fire Station 6 at 7 Hollywood Blvd. N.E. beginning at 7:45 a.m. Saturday to meet the firefighters and honor the fallen heroes by ringing the ceremonial bell. The goal is to ring the bell in honor of each first responder's life that was lost on that day.

All activities will take place outside with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Breakfast and lunch will be available for everyone who stops by the fire station.

Fort Walton Beach Police Department to Host 9/11 20th Anniversary Ceremony

The Fort Walton Beach Police Department, along with many other public safety partners, will host an emergency/first responder vehicle procession and commemoration ceremony Saturday in honor of our fallen heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

“May we never forget. This rings true each day and even more so as we approach the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil,” said Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Robert Bage. “Our department, along with our area first responder partners, have put together a fitting ceremony to honor the first responders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We invite everyone to witness and be a part of this solemn event, and to help us honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow Americans.”

Visitors listen during during a ceremony in downtown Crestview marking the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The event begins at 5:50 p.m. with an emergency vehicle procession. The procession begins at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center on Okaloosa Island. The route follows Miracle Strip Parkway to Perry Avenue, to Eglin Parkway, to Racetrack Road and ends at 6:20 p.m. at Joe Ethridge Stadium at Choctawhatchee High School at 110 Racetrack Road N.W. There will be a commemoration ceremony at the stadium after the procession ends.

Niceville Exchange Club Field of Valor

The Exchange Club of Niceville, in partnership with the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast Inc., hosts the Field of Valor each year to honor service members from Florida who have been killed in action while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq since Sept. 11, 2001. This weeklong event is free and open to the public.

Over 350 large American flags, measuring 3 feet by 5 feet and mounted on 8-foot poles, will be displayed in perfect rows and columns on the grassy field at the north end of the Mullet Festival grounds. Each flag bears the name of a service member who gave his or her life while stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The field is open to public visitation all week. The hours of operation are:

  • Sept. 11: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 12 through Sept. 17: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sept 18: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

South Walton Fire District Memorial Run

South Walton Fire District members will run 3.43 miles Saturday to remember the 343 firefighters lost as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

People can expect to see SWFD members running between Van Ness Butler Regional Beach Access and Bramble Grove Beach Access at about 9 a.m. The run is for SWFD members only, but the public is welcome to cheer on and encourage the participants as they make their way along County Road 30A.

The city of Crestview marked the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a small ceremony near the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial.

The SWFD members also invite people to join them on Facebook Live at 8:40 a.m., as they broadcast a special message from SWFD's Dispatch Center, then hold a moment of silence and prayer to honor the fallen.

Veterans Tribute Tower Bell Casting

On Sept. 11, 2014, Navy Veteran and then Florida governor Rick Scott joined members of the Fort Walton Beach community to dedicate the freshly-cast, 300 pound Freedom Bell at Uptown Station. A standing-room-only crowd of 500 guests was joined by members of the Florida Cabinet and Legislature, countless veterans and their families, service members, and military installation leadership. One year later, on Veterans Day 2015, the Freedom Bell found its home in the Veterans Tribute Tower at Beal Memorial Cemetery.

On Sept. 11, 2021, it will be sounded in salute to remember.

The tolling will be at 10 a.m. at 316 Beal Pkwy NW in Fort Walton Beach.