Temecula residents joined together Tuesday evening to memorialize the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks at the city’s annual ceremony at the Temecula Duck Pond.
Eleven years ago nearly 3,000 people were killed when Islamist militants hijacked four passenger airplanes, crashing two of the jets into the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon outside Washington and a fourth in a field in Pennsylvania.
The memorial service featured live music from The Spirit of Great Oak Band, speeches from city officials, a flag presentation by the Temecula Valley Young Marines and the signing of a keepsake journal in which people wrote notes and prayers for the attack victims.
A Dutch representative from Temecula’s sister city Leidschendam-Voorburg also presented a wreath at the foot of the “Singin’ in the Rain” sculpture, which was donated to Temecula by the Dutch city in 2002.
The evening closed with a candle-lit moment of silence. However, much of the crowd had already dispersed and only a hand-full of folks remained by the end.
“The crowd thinned out pretty quickly, but there are still plenty of people here who won’t forget the souls of the 9/11 victims,” said attendee Blake Romin, 43.
Early in the evening, city officials reminded the crowd of America’s resilience and urged the audience to rejoice in the American spirit.
“What we need to do is celebrate the bravery of those who gave everything to save a few,” said Council Member Jeff Comerchero. “Remember who we are, what we are about, and why we are the greatest nation.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Nagger asked the audience to unite within their communities in order to preserve freedom, which he stressed did not come without cost.
“Hold liberty in your hand like a torch or flame and pass that neighbor to neighbor around the community,” said Nagger. “Do not squander liberty, but pass it along, Let freedom ring!”
Temecula resident Lisa Ricks said that she always attends her community’s September 11th event, regardless of where she is living.
“We just came to remember,” said Ricks, who brought her son David, 9, along to the event. “It was so tragic and senseless you have to feel for all those families of the victims.”
Although David was born after the attacks, he told his mother of his dedication to the memory of the Sept. 11 victims.
“Even when I’m bigger and my kids are born, I’m always going to remember to go,” said David. “I’m going to take them right here so they will remember too.”
Amy Donnelly is a local photojournalist and regular contributor to SWRNN.