Sep 11, 2019 at 11:29 PM

Memorial Ceremonies Mark Anniversary of Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks

By Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews | September 11, 2019 | 9:35 p.m.

Memorial ceremonies were held across Santa Barbara County on Wednesday to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the catastrophic Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States. 

An observance at the Santa Barbara County Fire Department headquarters near Santa Barbara began at 9 a.m., with fire Chaplain Jerry Gray leading a prayer, a moment of silence, and Capt. Daniel Bertucelli lowering the American flag to half-staff.

Fire Chief Mark Hartwig offered brief remarks and recalled the terrible day 18 years ago.

He described watching the devastating events unfold on television, seeing two planes hit the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan in New York City.

“It was one of the worst days that I can recall,” Hartwig told the crowd of about 50. “Yet, it was one of the best days, because it showed us the best — not just what our first responders will do for our communities, but what we will do for each other.”

The ceremony honored the nearly 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the first responders and the military members who were killed fighting the terrorism behind the attacks, Hartwig said.

After the commandeered jetliners slammed into the towers, emergency personnel rushed into the massive buildings to help rescue civilians.

Rescue crews displayed immense “bravery and courage,” Hartwig said, adding that he’s “inspired each and every day” by the heroic acts that occurred.

Hundreds of emergency personnel and others perished trying to get people out of the towers when they collapsed.

“I recall watching the towers fall and knowing there were many people inside those towers,” Hartwig said. “Not just rescuers and responders, but those who went that morning as if it was a regular day at work.”

He recounted his memories of the attacks, describing evacuees descending down a staircase in an orderly manner, colleagues helping each other, and rescue workers assisting people who were trapped.

“We all have vivid memories of that morning when not just the attacks happened, but when the towers fell,” Hartwig said. “There are a few images I have in my mind.”

Hijackers also flew a jetliner into the Pentagon building outside Washington, D.C., while a fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa., after passengers thwarted the hijacking.

With a large bronze statue of a firefighter clutching a hose line in the background, people who gathered outside the fire headquarters on Cathedral Oaks Road also heard remarks from county Sheriff Bill Brown.

Sept. 11 was the single deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, , Brown said, and also was the deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in America.

Firefighter deaths that day amounted to more than 4,000 years of collective experience, Brown said, and more than 800 children lost a parent.

First responders were shining examples of dedication to duty, courage and selflessness, he said. These men and women ran into the burning buildings “to save lives when most people were trying to run out,” Brown said.

“It’s incumbent on us to never forget,” he said. “It’s important those after us remember as well, and we explain what happened.”

At Santa Barbara High School, students placed 1,000 flags on the senior lawn to commemorate the lives lost in the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We are proud to lead the effort in remembering those lost on that fateful day,” said students Brooke and Sierra Clark, who organized the "9/11 Never Forget Project."

The effort was sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation, which provided buttons and stickers to be handed out by student organizers throughout the day to encourage faculty, staff, and students to honor the lives lost.

The project also was made possible by John Blankenship of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, who provided the flags used in the memorial, and Fred Cota of the American Legion Santa Barbara Post 49.

Across town, students and parents at Bishop Diego High School also placed flags — on the student quad — to honor the lives lost on Sept. 11.

Flags also were set up on the beach near Stearns Wharf.

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