Beams of light and Parade of Brothers honor 911 loses
By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(Sept.7, 2023) Ocean City will host a series of events to pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Middle Eastern suicide pilots crashed aircraft in New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Altogether, the coordinated assault caused 3,000 deaths, many of them among the first responders who answered the call for help.
The Ocean City Fire Department will be presenting the “Remembrance Beams of Light” at the Firefighter Memorial in Ocean City, located at North Division St. and the Boardwalk. This year, two 5 billion candle-power twin beams will be filling the Ocean City night skyline beginning on Friday, Sept. 8, and burning through dawn on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
A lighting ceremony will be held on Friday at 8 p.m.
“This weekend of awareness gets people thinking about it. Standing on the Boardwalk, looking up into the heavens, is probably one of the most humbling experiences one can ever have,” Kevin Knolls, the organizer of the event and former chaplain for the Ocean City Fire Department.
Video tributes will be played nightly on a giant outdoor movie screen located on the beach at the memorial beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 through Monday night, Sept. 11.
“This is a great opportunity to help people remember and reflect back 20-plus years. A whole generation was not around then. People can bring their families to the Boardwalk and introduce them to what happened,” Knolls said.
“Each night, we will have one of the area fire department towers flying Old Glory. Ocean City, Berlin, Ocean Pines and Roxanna fire departments will all take a night to fly the flag.
“This is not just an Ocean City Fire Department event, it is a fire department community tribute,” Knolls said.
Representatives from the fire department community will serve as ambassadors for the memorial and the weekend of remembrance and educational awareness activities. They will also serve as stewards, and assist by having “Boots” ready, to receive donations from all that would like to directly contribute and fund the 2024 Remembrance Beams Initiative.
On Monday, Sept. 11, representatives of the Ocean City Fire Department will be paying tribute at the Firefighter Memorial during the six Sept. 11 time stamp announcements, beginning at 8:46 a.m.
The time stamp announcements mark the exact time when the planes hit the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania as well as the times when the two towers collapsed.
At approximately 11:45 a.m. the Red Knights Motorcycle Club, Maryland Chapter 3, will host its 21st “Parade of Brothers” at the memorial. The service is scheduled for noon and will conclude with the “Striking of the Bell” line of duty, death ceremony.
“The Red Knights Chapter MD-3, along with the Ocean City Fire Department, are hosting this event to remember and honor all of those who lost their lives as a result of 911, especially the 343 firefighters lost in the collapse of buildings, from smoke inhalation and from additional devastating impacts that day,” said Mike Fiazzo, the organizer for the event.
Speakers for this event include Mayor Richard Meehan, Ocean City Fire Chief Richard Bowers, Sheriff Matt Crisafulli, Maryland State Sens. Johnny Mautz and Mary Beth Carozza and Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jay Jester.
Registration for the Parade of Brothers event will occur Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. on 27th Street. Motorcycles will be moved to the Boardwalk at 26th Street for staging. At 11:30 a.m. they will ride down the Boardwalk and participate in the memorial service at North Division and the Boardwalk at noon.
At 1 p.m. the bikers will be escorted over the Harry W. Kelly Memorial Bridge, Route 50, out of town for a ride to the Roxana Moose Lodge for lunch.