PALM HARBOR, Fla, (WFLA) — A 9/11 memorial service was held at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens to recognize 22 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
“It doesn’t mark the day my son was murdered, it marks history,” said Lee Ielpi, a retired NYC firefighter.
Lee Ielpi’s son, Jonathan Lee Ielpi was also a fireman in New York City. On 911, he gave his life to save others.
“It’s so beneficial for our country to understand what happened 22 years ago,” Ielpi said.
Jonathan was 29-years-old and was on Squad 288 when he responded to the World Trade Center.
“That firehouse, which also has the hazmat unit in it, sent 19 men to the World Trade Center,” Ielpi shared. “It’s the worst death toll in the fire department all 19 men, nobody went home.”
Ielpi says his son called him while responding to the tragedy. Unfortunately, it’d be the last time Ielpi would hear his son’s voice.
“He knew what was going to happen, I don’t mean the towers collapsing, but he knew that I was going to come in and try to help.”
John Norman is also a retired firefighter for the City of New York. He was on his first day of vacation when he got an urgent call to come in.
“I made my way into the trade center site, and I spent the next couple of weeks there about seven weeks,” Norman recalled.
During the tragedy, Norman served as a Search & Rescue Manager at the WTC and Chief of Special Operations.
“Chief of Special Operations, which lost 95 people that day, it was long, lot of friends lost, it was a tough, tough time,” he said.