Photo courtesy of the Mountain Brook Fire Department.
The city of Mountain Brook last hosted the Patriot Day ceremony in 2013.
Homewood will join the cities of Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills this year to pause and remember the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. The annual Patriot Day ceremony, which rotates between the three cities each year, will be Sunday, Sept. 11, in Mountain Brook.
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jack Natter will serve as the keynote speaker at this year’s Patriot Day ceremony. Natter is an attorney and has served as a member of the Hoover City Council since 2011. He grew up in Trussville and Homewood, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962 and retired from the Navy in 1998 after service both on active duty and in the reserves. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Natter returned to duty for a few weeks at the headquarters of the Navy’s European fleet in London, England, serving as Deputy of Resources and Readiness.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m., Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer will join Mountain Brook Mayor Terry Oden, Fire Chief Chris Mullins and Police Chief Ted Cook, as well as Vestavia Hills Mayor Butch Zaragoza and other members of the cities’ police and fire departments to welcome guests at the intersection of Hoyt Lane and Oak Street in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village.
Mullins, who is helping to plan this year’s event for the first time as Mountain Brook’s fire chief following the retirement of former Chief Robert “Zeke” Ezekiel, said he planned the event in 2013 when the event was last held in Mountain Brook. This year’s event, he said, will have an “identical footprint.”
The city of Homewood hosted the event in 2015 in front of City Hall, where Homewood High School’s The Network show choir performed several songs as a part of the ceremony. Lexi Bresnan, daughter of Homewood Fire Chief John Bresnan, performed a solo. City Council member Walter Jones sang the national anthem, and Brian Erickson of Trinity United Methodist Church gave the invocation. Brian Bowman played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes as doves flew out above the crowd at the end of the ceremony.
Mullins said the cities discussed the possibility of hosting the event on another day this year becauseSept. 11 falls on a Sunday, but they decided against it. “We felt it was important to reflect on that day,” he said.
Mullins said because the event is on a weekend day, the hope is that more community members will be able to take part in this year’s 15th anniversary of the attacks.
The ceremony was first organized after the Sept. 11 attacks as a way to always remember. The host city is in charge of organizing the main details, while the other cities participate in the coordinated effort by providing personnel and equipment.
As in years past, Vestavia Hills will provide the large American flag set to be raised above the crowd using ladder trucks provided by the other participating cities.
Area residents, as well as off- and on-duty firemen and police officers, are all invited to attend, said Mountain Brook Police Chief Ted Cook. “Schedules and patrol duties permitting, of course,” he said.
The 45-minute ceremony, which brings together those who keep their cities safe and its residents to honor lives lost, will once again be steeped in tradition. A laying of the wreath and a bell ceremony will be part of the planned schedule, along with a moment of silence at the exact time two passenger planes struck the World Trade Center towers.
The ceremony will take place next to the Sept. 11 memorial, which sits outside the Mountain Brook fire. The beam, a 1,305-pound H-beam from the former World Trade Center site in New York, was dedicated during the Patriot Day ceremony in 2013.