Murrieta public safety officers ‘9-11 Tribute Run’ honors those who lost their lives in terror attacks

A group of Murrieta Police and firefighters led by Capt. Dennis Vrooman and Probationary Firefighter Paramdeic Randy Lopez make their way down Washington Avenue in Historic Downtown Murrieta for the annual “9-11 Tribute Run,” Monday, Sept. 11. Kim Harris photo
A group of Murrieta Police and firefighters led by Capt. Dennis Vrooman and Probationary Firefighter Paramedic Randy Lopez make their way down Washington Avenue in Historic Downtown Murrieta for the annual “9-11 Tribute Run,” Monday, Sept. 11. Kim Harris photo

An early morning rain storm did not stop Murrieta firefighters and police officers from donning their PT gear and heading off on a five-mile run in remembrance of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

A slight rain delay prevented the group of about 30, some in their fire-fighting helmets, from leaving Murrieta’s Town Square Park at the planned 7 a.m., but after skies began to clear the group took off at a moderate pace down Jefferson Avenue to complete the annual “9-11 Tribute Run.”

The group carried an American flag and commemorative guidon, intended to recognize the sacrifices of public safety and military personnel who perished during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

According to Murrieta Police Cpl. Detective Mike Jacob, the run began 10 years ago when retired Murrieta Firefighter Danny Underwood ran 10 miles by himself carrying the flag. Over the years the event evolved into the 5-mile run the group completed today.

Chris McGovern, a probationary firefighter paramedic with the Murrieta Fire Department, runs through the street of Historic Downtown Murrieta during the department’s annual “9-11 Tribute Run,” Sept. 11. Kim Harris photo
Chris McGovern, a probationary firefighter paramedic with the Murrieta Fire Department, runs through the street of Historic Downtown Murrieta during the department’s annual “9-11 Tribute Run,” Sept. 11. Kim Harris photo

Rain fell off and on throughout the run but didn’t discouraged those who decided to participate in the run.

“The way I figure it, running in the rain was a small sacrifice to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the events that occurred Sept. 11, 2001,” said Chris McGovern, a probationary firefighter paramedic with the Murrieta Fire Department.

The group, escorted by a fire truck and two police vehicles, made their way down Jefferson Avenue to Juniper Avenue, then down to Washington Avenue, before turning onto Calle Del Oso Oro. They then turned around and ran back in the same direction to finish the five-mile run.

A rainbow broke through the clouds as a torrential downpour unloaded on the runners. While science says a rainbow is simply a refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere, perhaps it meant something else, something bigger. Perhaps it signified the hope that the pain the country felt that fateful day would never be repeated.

The city of Murrieta will also hold a “Sunset 9/11 Service,” beginning at 7:15 p.m., adjacent to the unfinished 9/11 Memorial in Town Square Park.

Community Services Department Spokeswoman Lea Kolek said that Mayor Rick Gibbs and Police Chief Sean Hadden will lead the observation, which will include a color guard presentation by police officers and fire personnel, followed by a singing of the national anthem.

Murrieta Police Chief, Sean Hadden, carries the American flag for the last leg of the city’s annual “9-11 Tribute Run,” in historic Downtown Murrieta Sept. 11. Kim Harris photo
Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden carries the American flag for the last leg of the city’s annual “9-11 Tribute Run,” in historic Downtown Murrieta Sept. 11. Kim Harris photo

Kolek said after brief remarks, officials will unveil the memorial, which consists of a slanted rock on which a plaque is planned with quotes from former President George W. Bush, speaking immediately after the attacks. There is also a bench nearby with the inscription “We Will Never Forget.”

More than 200 people are expected to turn out for the event, and all attendees will be invited to leave potato-sized rocks around the memorial.

“The rocks can be painted with a patriotic theme, or just contain words, prayers, poems,” Kolek said.

She said torches will be lit at the beginning of the service and extinguished in memory of the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11.

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