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9-11 Memorial Service

Highlights of the September 11th service include:

Keynote Speaker – Lee Ielpi - Retired FDNY, 9/11 Hero

Lee Ielpi is a much decorated veteran of the elite FDNY Special Operations Company 2 and a Vietnam veteran.  He spent 26 years with the FDNY and his two sons, Jonathan and Brendan, followed in his footsteps also becoming New York firefighters.  

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Lee received a phone call from his son Jonathan telling him that he was headed to a fire at the World Trade Center.  Lee finished the conversation with “be safe Buddy” and that was the last time he spoke to his son - Jonathan Lee Ielpi, a 29-year-old father of 2 young sons. Lee’s second son, Brendan was a probationary firefighter for just four months at the time and also responded to the World Trade Center site.  

When Lee arrived at the World Trade Center site, the towers had collapsed, fires were raging, and the site was strewn with huge pieces of twisted steel and crushed fire trucks. He spent months searching the smoldering, surreal rubble looking for Jonathan.  During his grueling work at the World Trade Center site, Lee become part of the well-known group called “The Band of Dads” - a group of senior first responders who, like Lee, were diligently working daily at Ground Zero searching for their sons. They inspired others with their fortitude and determination.

After three months of searching, Lee’s son Jonathan’s body was found.  Lee, along with son Brandon, carried
Jonathan out of the debris pile.  Lee continued his dedicated search at Ground Zero for the next six months alongside “The Band of Dads”. Sadly, Lee was the only one in the group to bring his son home.

Since 2001, Lee has dedicated his life to 9/11 education & remembrance.  Lee has served as President of the
September 11th Families’ Association Board of Directors since 2002 and co-founded the 9/11 Tribute Museum.  The coat and helmet that Jonathan was wearing when he was recovered are on display there.

Lee became a leader among the families who lost a loved one on September 11th and has served as a

representative for families on the National September 11th Memorial and Museum Board of Directors, the LMDC Family Advisory Council, the Twin Towers Board and the FDNY Family Advisory Unit.

To See More About Lee Ielpi Click Here


Mark Wilson, Master of Ceremony

Mark Wilson is a beloved news anchor on FOX 13. An Emmy award-winning reporter and anchor with more than 20 years’ worth of experience traveling the world and sharing the stories of the people of the Tampa Bay area, Mark would like to think he learned from the best. His father is former FOX 13 anchor John Wilson.

National Anthem - Sonya Bryson-Kirksy, Tampa Bay Lightning  Retired US Air Force

God Bless America - Lisa Cane, Pinellas County School Board Member

Twin Light Beams Lighting the Sky

Two days prior to 9-11, (Friday, Sept 9-Sunday, Sept 11) Curlew Hills displays two enormous beams of light projected from the memorial site. The giant twin beams shown more than 1000 feet in the sky each evening in likeness to the two beams of light that shined in New York City following 9-11. It is a magnificent and emotional sight. It lights up the night sky and serves a beacon of remembrance. Our 9/11 Memorial Lights will shine bright from 8-10:00 p.m. on September 9, 10 & 11. Rain or shine. Drive by to see this beautiful remembrance!

A 9/11 Student Essay Contest

We are proud to once again sponsor the Gene Gentile Essay Writing Contest. Students grades 6 – 8 in Pinellas County are invited to participate in an essay writing contest with the theme "How did 9/11 impact the nation?"  The first place winner will receive $500 and the second place winner will receive $250.  The first place winner will read his or her essay at the 9/11 ceremony.

A 9-11 Student Art Display

Students in 4th and 5th grade in nearby elementary schools are invited to create artwork based on the theme "What 9-11 Means to Me". Curlew donates $500 to the art department of each participating school. All this original student artwork will be displayed on large boards for everyone to view at the 9/11 Memorial event.  Last year there was approximately 500 pieces of art displayed. Elementary schools participating this year are Curlew Creek, Ozona, Westlake Christian School and Sutherland.

Facebook Live

In an effort to bring this special event to people everyone, the 9-11 ceremony will be broadcast on Facebook Live.  People from around the world could watch the ceremony as it happens by visiting the Curlew Hills Facebook Page on September 11 at 10 a.m.

Other Event Highlights:

Event Attendance:  Approximately 2000

The 9-11 Program also included: Honor Guards, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Flyover, U.S. Coast Guard Flyover, and musical guests.  Master of Ceremonies is well known Fox 13 TV News Anchor Mark Wilson. 

This is an outdoor event.  Guests are encouraged to bring sun protection, folding chairs and arrive early to avoid parking delays.

9-11 Monument Overview

Built in 2012, the one-of-a-kind 9/11 Memorial at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens features twisted piece of steel “floating” in the center, 30 tons of American granite as the towers, and a bright eternal flame at its base.  Surrounding the 9/11 memorial itself are large granite monuments with the engraved names of the firefighters who lost their lives at 9/11 – including the K-9 dog who perished that day. Many of the visitors to the 9/11 Memorial take pencil etchings from these monuments. 

Benghazi Monument– On the pathway leading to the 9/11 memorial is a one-of-a-kind memorial dedicated to the four men who lost their lives in the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012 – Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former navy seals. It is one of only three memorials in the United States honoring the men in the Benghazi attack.

New Rescue & Recovery Workers Monument – This special and one-of-a-kind monument recognizes the Rescue & Recovery Workers who succumbed to their illness as a result of working rescue and recovery at the 9/11 site. Experts predict that the death toll among those sickened by the toxic dust and ash of Ground Zero will exceed the number of people killed on the day of the 9/11 attacks this year. This permanent memorial honors the firefighters, police officers, construction workers, and volunteers who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days or months after the attacks and have since died from illnesses related to their honorable work. Each year, at the 9-11 Memorial Event, Curlew Hills will update the number of people on the memorial.

Memorial Bell – The large, beautiful bell that sits adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial has a significant history. It was originally on the last wooden ladder fire truck in New York City. Donated by retired NYC firefighter Joe Daly, the bell was refurbished and now stands at a place of honor in front of the 9/11 Memorial.  It is used during the ceremony for the Tolling of the Bell.