'Preserving that memory': Palm Harbor 9/11 memorial dedicated to remembering victims, heroes

Sunday marks 21 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. At Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor, a memorial is dedicated to making sure that day is never forgotten.

Friday, twin lights turned on as a beacon of remembrance of that devastating day. The beams shining into the sky as a way to honor both the victims, and heroes of September 11, 2001.  The pair of lights are projected more than 1,000 feet into the night sky, making sure the memorial can be seen far and wide.

"Two white beams that shine up in the sky to depict the two towers that had fallen," explained Palm Harbor Fire Commissioner Julie Peluso. "And it shines right up to heaven."

The beams are part of the Curlew Hills Memory Gardens 9/11 Memorial. It is the largest in the state.

READ: Father, daughter share stage to honor victims of Sept. 11 attacks at Hillsborough Patriot Day event

This weekend marks a decade since this place of remembrance has been in Palm Harbor, and it all started with a twisted slab of steel that was pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers.

"We have a threefold purpose for this memorial to preserve, to honor and to educate," explained Peluso. "We preserve by not only this piece of steel that has been given to us to take care of, but also we preserve that day, that tragic day, and all those lives that were lost. We want to preserve that memory."

An eternal flame burns brightly underneath a granite replica of the twin towers. Large monuments surround the 150-pound steel beam, listing the names of all 343 firefighters who died on that dark day, and the 2,977 people who made the ultimate sacrifice.

MORE: 9/11 artifact exhibit arrives in New Port Richey

"We honor all those that not only died, but those that continue to die from that tragic day, the illnesses and the disease," Peluso said.  "And we want to make sure that they remember that they know what happened in America's history."

The memorial lights will shine Saturday and Sunday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

About 2,000 people are expected to attend the annual September 11th service at Curlew Hills at 10am Sunday.