9/11 heroes and victims are remembered

Posted on September 12, 2011

Always remember. Heroism. These were just a few words that were repeated in the East Room of the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda Sunday morning.

“It’s a wonderful time to stop and reflect on the core values of our country and the unity that makes us one great nation,” said Marilyn Moore, a choir singer at the event.

The 9/11 remembrance ceremony focused on those who lost and sacrificed their lives and American patriotism today.

Outside the library were remnants from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including 17.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center and a damaged New York City fire truck. The remnants were brought by Freedom’s Flame Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has been showing the fire truck and steel to various cities across the U.S. since 2002.

More than a thousand people from all over Orange County attended the ceremony. Some came hours earlier to ensure themselves a seat. Many others had to line up along the walls and in the hallway.

Those in attendance included Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), OC Sherrif Sandra Hutchens and 9/11 survivor Joe Torrillo. The three were also speakers at the ceremony.

“It rekindles a sense of community and camaraderie,” said Royce of the event.

Pride. Freedom. Patriotism. In addition to speakers, Villa Park High School’s Symphonic Ensemble Band, Orange High School Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, and Orange Community Master Chorale performed patriotic songs between speeches.

Michelle Cuyler, a Cal State Fullerton alumna, said listening to the choir sing “Battle Hymn Republic” was the most moving.

“(The song) speaks to our patriotism. It speaks to our faith. It speaks to our endurance. You may have knocked us down a little bit, but you haven’t knocked us over,” said Cuyler.

The song vibrated throughout the room and a few stood up to sing with the choir.

After the ceremony, attendees were given carnation flowers and asked to place the carnation on remnants from the terrorist attack. After placing the flower, many lingered to take in the historic sight. Some took pictures in front of the fire truck and steel and others took pictures with the United States Marines who presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony.

Never forget. 9/11. Each person at the ceremony knew exactly what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. Some were working, while others were getting ready for school.

Jessica Chapman, 23, a recent CSUF graduate, said while she didn’t fully realize what had happened the day terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, touching the damaged fire truck made her emotional.

“Touching (the fire truck) made me feel like (9/11) was something I was actually a part of,” said Chapman.

Unlike Chapman, Cerritos resident Mario Tovar said he knew exactly what had happened when the second plane hit.

“I was thinking, wait a minute, this is not an accident,” said Tovar, a former 411 operator.

Based in Colorado at the time, he didn’t expect to get calls forwarded from New York and Pennsylvania.

“People were frantic,” he said. “People were crying.”

It was very emotional for him and others at the call center.

“It’s not like we were there, but our ears were there,” Tovar said.

An event commemorating 9/11 has been hosted at the library every year since the attacks.

Originally published in the Daily Titan, Cal State Fullerton’s student-run newspaper.

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