The strength and unity of Americans was on display on Saturday as cities across Los Angeles County commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The tributes began early, especially at LAX where a moment of silence was held at 5:46 a.m. Saturday to commemorate the time that American Airlines Flight 11, which departed Boston Logan International Airport for LAX, hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower — not long before a separate plane bound for LAX hit the World Trade Center’s South Tower at 6:03 a.m. Pacific time. The third flight bound for LAX, American Airlines Flight 77, departed from Washington Dulles International Airport before hitting the Pentagon at 6:37 a.m. California time.
“While New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia bore the brunt of this horrific day two decades ago, Los Angeles was also deeply impacted by the loss of the passengers and crew on the three planes that were originally heading to LAX that morning,” said Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that manages LAX.
A second moment of silence and a color guard ceremony were scheduled at LAX at 8:43 a.m. inside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Station at Tom Bradley International Airport.
Two decades later. the scenes still evoke emotional responses, evident at memorials across the region this weekend.
Torrance residents were so dedicated to showing their support that some arose before the sun to honor the victims, survivors, families and first responders of the attacks at 5:46 a.m. in front of City Hall.
“Among the passengers on that flight was John Wenckus, a 46-year-old Torrance resident returning home from a visit with his family,” Torrance Mayor Pat Furey said. Wenckus was traveling from Boston back to Southern California with a friend, John Hofer of Long Beach, from his family’s annual golf tournament in Cape Cod.
“I didn’t know John,” Furey added. “But like so many folks, he came to the Golden State and Torrance to follow his dreams.”
“One can only wonder what great things he could have accomplished,” Furey said before leaders also took a moment to reflect on the first responders and the civilian volunteers who leaped into action — and eventually gave their lives as they attempted to clear rubble and search for survivors.
“I will never forget the silence when the first plane struck the tower,” said Torrance Police Chief Jeremiah Hart. “Firefighters climbed up stairs they would never descend, and yet they moved on still.”
“Police officers running through smoke even though they couldn’t see and they moved on still,” he added. “Citizens moving over rubble, unable to breath and yet they moved on still.”
Their sacrifice, Hart said, calls us to action today.
Local first responders concluded the event by ringing a bell, typically meant to signal the start of the morning shift, but today, it was to honor their fallen brothers and sisters.
“It is customary for the last bell be sounded for our brothers and sisters who have paid the supreme sacrifice,” said Torrance Fire Chief Martin Serna. “For having selflessly given their lives for their fellow man, their task completed, their duty done.”
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Band members of the fire and police departments accompanied the bell ringing with a performance of “Amazing Grace.”
Only a few miles up the street, 200 flags waved in Paramount where the City created a field of small American banners under the Hay Tree at Paramount Boulevard. and Civic Center Drive.
“This field of flags honors the memory of those lost on that awful day two decades ago and those lost since then in the subsequent War on Terror,” Mayor Brenda Olmos said, mentioning her fellow City Council members encourage residents to stop by and take a flag for themselves in remembrance of the families and individuals who were directly affected by 9/11.
In Malibu, nearly 3,000 flags waved on the campus of Pepperdine University in an annual tribute to those who died in the attacks. Additional flags are in place honoring each country that lost a citizen.
The City of Rosemead’s “Reflect,” a public sculpture that incorporates a steel beam from the World Trade Center on display at the City Hall Plaza in Rosemead, CA. The sculpture features two hands fashioned from thousands of dove-like cutouts, holding a steel girder from the World Trade Center, just as emergency personnel carried victims on September 11, 2001. The doves in the sculpture represent each of the victims of the terrorist attacks. The community will host its annual tribute Saturday.
Rosemead planned a memorial ceremony with a flag raising and wreath-laying adjacent to the city’s Sept. 11 Memorial. The famed artwork is a public sculpture, “Reflect,” by artist Heath Satow, of two hands created with wingspread dove cutouts that hold an I-beam from the World Trade Center
In downtown Los Angeles, thousands of volunteers planned to gather at the Convention Center to pack an estimated 200,000 meals for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. The event is in recognition of 9/11 being designated a National Day of Service. Organizers of the event said similar events are being held in 10 cities, with more than 2.5 million meals being packed for distribution to people in need nationwide.
In Pasadena, members of the city fire and police departments gathered at the Tournament of Roses’ Tournament House for a sunrise flag ceremony.
The Los Angeles Fire Department opted to cancel its annual in-person memorial ceremonies at fire stations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although it welcomed the public to visit its 9/11 Memorial Fountain in front of Fire Station 88 at 5101 N. Sepulveda Blvd. in Sherman Oaks at any time to pay respects. The LAFD will hold a virtual remembrance event at 7 p.m., accessible at https://lafdheroes.com.
Sun Valley Magnet School’s leadership class members Samantha Mazariegos, Ema Lira, Gaby Romero, and Brenda Jimenez with teacher Stephen Franklin with their multimedia experience that serves as a memorial and museum for the tragic events of September 11, 2001. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Sun Valley Magnet School teacher Stephen Franklin’s leadership program’s 6th- through 12th-graders will conclude their public display the multimedia experience they created, part memorial and part museum dedicated to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and their impact on American society. Included are scale models of the World Trade Center towers, a mock-up of an airport terminal, and a 15-foot tall American flag, where the students have hand-written the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the terror attacks.
The display will be open 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The school is located at 7330 Bakman Ave., Sun Valley.
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