POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

In Key West, Sept. 11 artifacts to be donated to new museum

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Key West Fire House Museum

The soon-to-be-opened Key West Fire House Museum will host a Sept. 11 memorial event. (Key West Fire House Museum)

In the years since Sept. 11, 2001, the connection between travel and the events of that day mostly surfaces in long lines to remove shoes at airport security checkpoints.

Yet this year, on the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, the heroes and victims of Sept. 11 will be remembered in an event that also foreshadows the opening of a museum in Key West. A memorial is slated for 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at Old Fire House No. 3 at the corner of Virginia and Grinnell streets in downtown Key West. That site will be transformed into a museum in 2012.

The event was conceived to remember those who died in the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and honor those who serve to protect our country. Guests will include members of the New York City and Key West fire departments, law enforcement officers, honor guards, veterans and local officials.

At the ceremony, the New York firefighters will present two pieces of the World Trade Center towers, one intended for eventual display at the museum and the other for the Key West Fire Department. The event also will feature a video that chronicles the creation and presentation of a Key West art memorial in New York City after the 2001 attacks.

The historic fire station, which operated from 1907 until 1998, is one of the oldest in Florida. When the station opened, the fire department had 12 paid firefighters and 200 volunteers. The building endured several hurricanes, including the storm of 1909 with its winds of more than 100 mph.

Guests at the memorial can take a guided tour of the Fire House Museum, scheduled to open early next year after organizers complete work on displays inside the historic building.

The brainchild of retired second-generation Key West firefighter Alex Vega, the museum will house artifacts from the island's firefighting history, such as a 1929 American La France fire engine, an early alarm system, a coal pit, uniforms and other items that belonged to the men stationed there.

Admission is free to the Sept. 11 event. For details, call 305-797-8417 or visit fla-keys.com.
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