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Remembering 911

twin_towers_in_fire_-_911-_fema_pictureDate: September 11, 2013
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Wally Karp Memorial
Tustin City Hall
300 Centennial Way

September 11th, 2001

This year, as we commemorate the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the City of Tustin invites you to join us in remembering the men, women, and children who were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. With every year that passes, we need to recommit ourselves to the promise we made to never forget the innocent lives lost, the heroism of the first responders, and how we came together in the aftermath.
Let us, on this anniversary date, embrace the great patriotic and community spirit that continues to unify and strengthen our country.”
– Al Murray

There are some things we, as a people and as individuals, will never forget. I like to say that you can’t do anything to me that hasn’t already been done to me at least once. I rarely find myself in awe or shocked by much of anything human beings can do to one another. September 11th was one of those days when I had trouble fathoming the depth of depravity of 19 men who sought to bring a nation to its knees by the most heinous terrorist act ever committed on US soil. As I wrote in the past, like many, I was just beginning my work day when it happened.

At times today, it seems as clear as it was that day twelve years ago.

Please join our Tustin Family tonight at 5 pm to celebrate life and remember heroes. If you can’t join us, please take a moment out of your day to pray for the souls of our public safety officers, heroes and others who perished on 9/11 and remember their lives were not lost in vain. They showed the world that the United States of America is made up of everyday heroes who would gladly give up there lives to keep that flame burning.

Our Flame Burns Brightly

Please join our community this evening at 5:30 pm at Cedar Grove Park as we remember those who perished on 9/11. A moment of silence, words of reflection, honor guard and the planting of two trees at the base of the grove of cedars.

It was just before 6 am and I was standing in the ready room of the Institutional Security Unit, “gearing up” for my shift. Someone brought my attention to the television in the corner and the burning building on the screen. “A plane just hit it”, was all my partner said. As we watched in stunned silence, a blur…then, suddenly, the building alongside the first was burning. We couldn’t believe our eyes. We slowly fathomed that another aircraft deliberately hit the second tower.

And our lives were changed forever.

I find it curious that many of  us, myself included, can remember where we were the day of the most important events of our lives. I remember my mom calling my brothers and me in to see the tape being run of John F. Kennedy being assassinated. I remember watching as live film of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald was displayed on the same TV.  In 1969, I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon and speak those famous words, And yes, I cried when I heard this famous man passed away. The Challenger and the Columbia? I can tell you where I was and what I was doing, along with the tragic fire of Apollo 1 and the near loss of Apollo 13 that would have ended in catastrophe had it not been for the heroic efforts of NASA engineers who would not let their charges die alone, in space. And, I will always remember where I was when the towers fell.

Our country is not defined by blustering politicians or the good times we hold so dear to us, but in our ability to overcome adversity. Even in the face of the darkest evil we could imagine, we show our best and show the world that we are strongest, when we appear to be at our weakest. Like it or not, we are also our brothers’ keeper and, as in the days of the forgotten war of Korea, or the 1968 Tet Offensive of Vietnam, it is our duty to keep the flame of freedom burning brightly when others would seek to extinguish it.

Today, please take a moment out to pray for the souls of our brothers and sisters who perished on 9/11 and remember their lives were not lost in vain. They showed the world that the United States of America is made up of everyday heroes who would gladly give up there lives to keep that flame burning.

Where Were You on 911

Artwork courtesy of Wilfried ON4WDL, a retired firefighter

That is the inevitable question asked around my workplace each year. Most of my coworkers (yes, I have a day job) are younger than me and haven’t worked for the county as long as I have. They weren’t there that fateful day in September, ten years ago, when our lives changed forever.

It’s a common question, though. Usually, on the anniversary of some momentous occasion, people ask each other where they were. I can tell you where I was and what I was doing when John Kennedy and his brother Bobby were assassinated, that I was standing in the receptionist lobby at work when the Challenger blew up and that I watched live as Columbia disintegrated before my eyes.

I remember watching with excitement the first moon landing with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and the 3 days of terror for every American as we all rode back to earth with the crew of Apollo 13 hoping, praying for the safe return of Lovell, Swigert and Haise as they gambled their lives in what amounted to a crazy cowboy move by mission control to slingshot around the moon to get them home safely.

And, I remember exactly where I was that fateful day 10 years ago when America displayed her vulnerability to the world. I was just getting ready to start my shift and was standing in the locker area putting on my gear. The TV was on and we watched as Tower #1 burned. It had been hit on my way into work. We knew only that an aircraft had crashed into the tower and that people were being evacuated. As we listened to the drone of the newscast team talking about what we already knew, we continued to get ready for our shift.

Suddenly, without warning, we saw a blip come from the left and Tower #2 exploded before our eyes. Most of California was just waking up as the drama unfolded. We were wide awake and not quite comprehending what we just saw. As we headed out into the institution to work, further events of that fateful day would unfold. Events that would change the life of every American forever. We were no longer safe, even on our own turf. The wars that we fought only on foreign soil since Pearl Harbor, had finally come crashing down on our front door.

Regardless of where you were or what you were doing that day, please take a moment out of your Sunday to give thanks to your Higher Power (or your inner self) that we still live in the relative safety of our borders. And remember, that safety came at a high price of 3000 civilian lives, 344 firefighters and 60 police officers, each one an American Hero. The price continues to be paid each day by the members of our Armed Forces stationed throughout the world in remote places such as Afghanistan, Europe and Korea.

Our Town Tustin (not my blog) will hold a commemoration on Sunday, 8:30 am, at Cedar Grove Park. A tree will be planted and new trees will be dedicated to the memory of those who died that fateful day. Also, the Orange County Fire Authority will hold a brief ceremony at each fire station beginning at 8:47 am. Or, do something good for you and your family. Whatever you do, be well and be thankful we live in the United States of America.