With many holding back tears but not emotion, a crowd of about 100 village residents marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in a simple but somber service led by the island’s first responders outside the Key Biscayne Fire Department.
Mayor Mike Davey, who was in Manhattan that day, became emotional as he remembered the loss of life at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa. where passengers rebelled against terrorists attempting to crash a plane into the White House or the Capitol.
The attacks killed nearly 3,000 and spurred wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter of which just formally ended weeks ago.
“Ground Zero was a mess,” the mayor said in recognizing the work of first responders to the site. “They had to pick up the body parts.” As the mayor spoke, some in the crowd brushed away tears, and tightly clasped the hands of children.
“It’s such a poignant moment in our history because we all did come together,” he continued, asking for a similar unity in observing vaccine and mask rules with the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were so great on 9/12. We were an amazing people back then. We need to get back there.”
Also attending the service was former Village Manager John C. Gilbert, who had responded to the World Trade Center site as a FEMA urban search and rescue team member, along with four other members of the island’s fire department.
“The passage of time tells me that what we were then, is not what we are today. I feel that in my gut. We are less civil, we are more argumentative,” Gilbert reflected.
“In 1993, we picked and choosed our battles, we didn’t just do things to irritate someone or make a stand,” he continued, talking about the early years of the Village government compared to today.
“Will we get over it?,” he asked himself. “I don’t think in the current mindset we will, but we will get over it,”
The service was briefly delayed because firefighters made a call to the Key Colony condominium complex. Fire Chief Eric Lang said later there was a glitch in an alarm system and there was no further action needed.