Citizens, Fort Walton Beach Police and Fort Walton Beach Firefighters gathered at fire station 6 for a 9/11 remembrance ceremony. During the event, retired Detroit Fire Department Senior Fire Chief Louis Gusoff unveiled a ceremonial fire bell which he gifted to the fire station.
FORT WALTON BEACH — September 11, 2001, is a day that no American citizen will forget.
On that day, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives when al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Today, citizens, local law enforcement and firefighters gathered at Fort Walton Beach Fire Station 6 to remember those who were lost that day.
“It’s a very important day that we must remember and never forget the ones we lost,” Fort Walton Beach Fire Chief Ken Perkins told the crowd of about 50 people in the station's truck bay. “Since that fateful day in September, the lives of Americans and nations around the world have changed.”
Perkins believes the tragedy serves as a reminder of how quickly the nation can change.
“I think it woke this country up to see that we’re not necessarily invincible,” Perkins said later. “It’s been shown over and over that if we forget history and forget the lessons of yesterday, then we’re bound to repeat them again in the future.”
During the ceremony, retired Detroit Fire Department Senior Fire Chief Louis Gusoff unveiled a ceremonial fire bell that he gifted to the Fire Department.
The bell has been around since 1962. It began its journey with Detroit Fire Engine 1 before moving to Engine 35. The bell was on fire trucks that responded to many fires and a five-day civil disturbance before fire bells were replaced with air horns. It has since been refurbished by two local companies.
“I’m good friends with the guys here and I wanted them to have it,” Gusoff said. “It’s an honor to bring it here and have such a beautiful memorial.”
Perkins was happy to accept the gift.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “This is not just any bell. There’s a lot of tradition in this bell, so we’re very honored to have a bell that is older than anybody in the Fire Department.”
Before the ceremony ended, Perkins read an excerpt from President George W. Bush’s address to the nation following the 9/11 attacks. Then he challenged everyone present to do their part to keep alive the legacy of those who died.
“We have to be vigilant and make sure we protect ourselves and unite as a nation to make sure that those things don’t happen again,” Perkins said. “These untimely deaths are a reminder of resolve and strength. May we never forget.”