A teenage boy played “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the side of Gulf of Mexico Drive as President George W. Bush’s motorcade traveled down the road into the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
It was Sept. 10, 2001. The president waved to the crowd on GMD, bottled water in hand. He was staying at the Colony and had plans to visit Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota.
He enjoyed dinner with his brother, then Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and several prominent local Republicans, along with an early jog the next morning on Longboat Key’s beach. As he left the Key after a 14-hour stay, he didn’t know that his presidency — and the world — were about to change.
After Bush learned about the attacks during his visit to the elementary school, he briefly addressed the students, teachers, parents and journalists present before his motorcade whisked him away to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to leave on Air Force One.
Meanwhile, many Secret Service agents and members of the press corps remained at the Colony as they made arrangements to return to Washington, D.C.
+ Flags offer tribute to lives lost
In 2002, Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren proposed lining Gulf of Mexico Drive with nearly 3,000 flags in memory of each life lost in the attacks.
Since then, the flags have been placed every year on the anniversary of the attacks. To watch a video of Sept. 11 tributes that occur locally, visit www.yourobserver.com.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].