Several dozen members of the community, public safety and law enforcement gathered Wednesday, Sept. 11, for the city’s annual September 11th Remembrance event at the Temecula Duck Pond.
“I remember where I was 18 years ago on that tragic morning,” Temecula Community Services Commissioner Eric Levine said. “No one could imagine then how those moments would change life in America forever. It started as a typical day folks preparing for or headed off to work, students going to school and then the news about American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the World Trade Center. Seventeen minutes later, United Flight 175 crashed there too. Just when it seemed it couldn’t get worse, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. I never thought I’d see our country under attack. Life would never be the same.
“However, in the wake of unimaginable terror, we also saw incredible resilience, courage, renewed patriotism and hope. The passengers of Flight 93 stood up to their hijackers and sacrificed themselves, saving and told others we will never forget. Ordinary citizens made life-changing decisions. After that day, they quit their jobs to join the military or discovered other ways to contribute and make a difference,” Levine said.
Temecula city councilmember Maryann Edwards talked about the confusion many Americans experienced as the attacks began to be reported. She recalled that she was attending a Rotary Club meeting when news came pouring in.
“I thought it was a joke, some kind of terrible sick joke,” Edwards said. “And the more I listened to it, it took me a couple of minutes to understand what he was saying and to believe what he was saying.
“I can tell you the feelings were so different from person to person, but the one thing that every person in that room felt was we were at that point proud and indignant at the same time, we were so proud to be Americans. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t know how bad it was. We didn’t know if the West Coast was next. Nobody knew. But we knew somehow that America would survive and be stronger and better for it,” Edwards said.
Temecula city councilmember Matt Rahn thanked members of the community for coming out to the event – especially the young people who may have not been old enough to process what happened or weren’t born yet.
“I look out and I see the folks here that were born after 9/11 and they don’t have the context,” Rahn said. “It’s really important to see all of you youngsters out here today because we don’t want to forget and we want to be able to be respectful and commemorate this day the way it needs to be. But as we tell that story, we have to remember that the story of 9/11 is still very much being written.
“As the effects of those events on American society continue to evolve, the story is now emerging as one of strength and endurance and the real true grit of what America is all about across the nation. We still come together 18 years later to remember this day to remind us that we should remain vigilant and that we still live in a world where tragedy and terrorism exists. And hopefully in these remembrances, we inspire ourselves to always respect those sacrifices that are made by our police and firefighters, and we also inspire the next generation of first responders to continue this amazing legacy of service before self and that future sacrifices will never be forgotten and never taken for granted again,” Rahn said.
After the presentations, guests were invited to sign and leave a message in the city’s keepsake journal and enjoy refreshments.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.