NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) — Pasco County made a promise to always honor the lives lost on 9/11.
Each year, the Pasco 9/11 commission hosts one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest 9/11 remembrance ceremonies at Sims Park in New Port Richey.
Like many years, the park was packed with kids and teens too young to remember that fateful day. The adults alongside them, however, won’t let them soon forget.
That includes kids like Kaden Seabrook, who at 8-years-old only knows of 9/11 from his history book. That didn’t stop him from singing at Pasco’s annual memorial service and his mom, Krystal Patterson, couldn’t be prouder.
“Gives him a chance to learn about history, and hear from others who were personally impacted,” Patterson said.
Pasco 9/11 committee chair Heather Fiorentino says they intentionally cater the event every year to kids and families to encourage learning. Youth organizations are always a part of the program, and patriotic artwork from Pasco schools adorned Sims Park.
Seeing kids at Wednesday’s event means a lot to Joe Sprowls.
“It’s keeping the memory alive,” Sprowls said.
The retired NYPD detective and former history teacher was in his classroom when the planes hit the Twin Towers in 2001.
“I remember turning around to the students and saying ‘most people are running out, but those cops and firemen are running in,'” Sprowls recalled.
Firefighters like Rich Miccio, who was caught in the chaos as the North Tower collapsed.
“I put my mask on, covered up, and waited to die,” Miccio said.
Miccio now lives in Holiday and comes to Pasco’s ceremony every year. He compares it to tearing off a bandaid, but says it’s worth it to help instill a sense of the tragedy in generations still to come.
“They have to learn from people like myself, people who have been there,” Miccio said. “Things get forgotten and we can’t let this be forgotten.”