Remembrance etched in wood and canvas

There was a moment of silence as first responders and Gulf County residents gathered around two painted plywood doors, which read “9.11.01 NEVER FORGET,” 20 years after the 9-11 attacks.  

“I’m surprised they hung on to them,” said Katie Steiger, who had freehand painted the red, white and blue memorial on the doors three years prior. “But it seems fitting that they were the backdrop for today’s ceremony.”

The doors had been in the Cape San Blas firehouse for years, a remnant of the fire department’s repairs after Hurricane Michael. They had held onto them to serve as a constant presence and reminder in the firehouse.

Attendees gathered in close to hear Roberta Cozine tell, in hushed tones, her personal experience in the twin towers 20 years prior.

“I’ve told this story many times, so I didn’t come with it written out today,” she said. “And these things are forever in my memory. I never had anxiety or anything before the attacks.”

“And with young people these days, it’s almost like the Vietnam War was for us. They don’t really remember how everything started,” she said.

In the firehouse, Fire Chief Mike Barrett said, the memory of the first responders who gave their lives on 9-11 is a constant presence. He went to New York City in the days following the attack, and he is dedicated to ensuring the memory of the 343 first responders who gave their lives is honored not only on the anniversary of the attack, but every day.

In their honor, he commissioned a painting from local artist Melissa Juberg. 

“I am honored to have been trusted with this project,” she said, shortly before the painting was hung in the newly renovated firehouse. 

The canvas reads “343 forever remembered.”

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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