Sense of community felt at 9-11 memorial events

first_imgFive years from the day and thousands of miles from the sites where American life changed forever, Angelenos vowed Monday to cherish, honor and build upon the events of Sept. 11. They pledged to remember the heroics of the firefighters, cops and paramedics crushed in the World Trade Center collapse. To commemorate the sacrifice of the service members lost at the Pentagon. To fight like the passengers of Flight 93, brought down before its hijackers could fulfill their mission. To learn from the stoicism of the families whose way of life vanished in fire and explosion. And, resoundingly, to unite again in the spirit of brotherhood seen following the attacks. “Like other Americans, I wanted to do more, so I flew to New York City and visited ground zero,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a ceremony at the Los Angeles Fire Department Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center. “I went back there to pump them up and encourage them. But it was those heroes who pumped me up.” “It still seems surreal, it still seems like a movie,” said Plasschert, 31. “I woke up early this morning to watch the news, and it brought back all the emotion. … When I heard the bagpipes and saw the helicopters, tears started rolling. It’s a somber time.” At North Hollywood Park, doves were released in the air as about 100 residents, city officials, firefighters and policemen gathered for an evening of remembrance. Sitting on the grass and in folding chairs and surrounded by candles and American flags, residents listened to blessings from Jewish, Christian, Muslim and American Indian literature. Nearby, about 80 trees planted in 2002 stand in honor of each Californian killed in the 9-11 attacks. The Hollywood/Los Angeles Beautification Team, which planted the trees and hosted the event, rededicated the trees Monday, along with others that formed a circle of unity. Two new trees were dedicated to honor a fallen police officer and fire captain from New York City, part of the Beautification Team’s effort to plant 2,996 trees around the city of Los Angeles – one for every 9-11 victim. North Hollywood resident Gail Schneider, 32, has attended a 9-11 ceremony with her son Gabriel every year. “My family is from New York and I remember when it happened… It was panic for me and I couldn’t get through to anybody on the phone.” Schneider said the attacks have changed her life – besides leading to her vow of never flying again. “I grieve for these people not just on the anniversary but all year.” Shaun Vieten, 29, of North Hollywood, was exercising at the park when he noticed the ceremony and the tree memorial. Since the attacks, Vieten said he was “trying to forgive more and not to hold grudges without reconciling. “I just think life’s too short.” L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the North Hollywood area, said the ceremony was “a wonderful way to spend the day of remembrance.” “I’m proud of how we react and remember but also how we move forward.” L.A. City Fire Battalion Chief Evan Williams said the sense of community engendered by ceremonies like the 9-11 event are important. “When you have an event like that to heal the wounds, the sense of community helps you get through it.” [email protected] (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsAt the heavily attended press conference, with scores of uniformed firefighters and police officers in dress blues and elected officials in suits, politicians spoke of the efforts made since the attacks to shore up security. Speakers cheered the sacrifices of the first responders and pledged to work to prevent a similar catastrophe in the future. “We have a piece of hallowed ground behind us, but our spirit and our soul is as strong as that steel,” City Council President Eric Garcetti said, referencing the steel girder from the World Trade Center foundation that stands as a memorial to those lost in the attacks. “Our work today is not to make this day holy. Those who died have already done so.” As an honor guard bore the flags of the city, state and nation, a uniformed bagpiper blew a mournful “Amazing Grace.” To close the somber ceremony, Ed Gabriel, retired New York City Fire Department chief of emergency medical services, in uniform once again, rang a firehouse bell 10 times and summoned three Los Angeles Fire Department helicopters. They hovered above in the missing man formation, churning the American flag on a fire engine below, then roared away. After the ceremony closed and the dignitaries departed, Los Angeles Firefighter Gavin Plasschert knelt silently beside the wrecked piece of the Trade Center. On duty in Watts on 9-11 and now working in Woodland Hills, Plasschert nearly lost a cousin scheduled for a shift with NYFD Rescue 4 on the day of the attacks. last_img