Community remembers 9/11 victims in El Cajon ceremony
The next wave of 9/11 victims is the ones dying of 9/11/2001 related illnesses. El Cajon resident Ely Quintero, 16, said, “I started hearing about it about three years ago.” That new twist to more 9/11 victims was also noted in the speeches of various dignitaries at a 9/11 ceremony organized by Sen. Joel Anderson and co-hosted by the City of El Cajon at Centennial Park on Sept 11.
El Cajon resident, Debbie Gates, was there to watch her son, Bryce Gates, sing the national anthem along with other members of the Steele Canyon High School’s show choir. Gates noted that many of her friends on social media were posting 9/11 related memes or pictures the day before.
Ely Quintero, 16, said the iconic image known as “The Falling Man” taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew of a man jumping out of the North Tower to his death stuck with her. While many of the attendees witnessed 9/11 as adults there were freshman in attendance that 9/11/01 did not happen in their lifetime. The history books and media were their teachers of the tragic 9/11 day when over 2, 977 individuals died when planes hit the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon, or went down in a Pennsylvania field. That total also included first responders such as firefighters and law enforcement.
Quintero is a member of El Cajon Valley High School’s Link Crew and attended the 9/11 ceremony with many others in the Link Crew that also assisted with tying “in memory of” yellow ribbons around the small flags after the ceremony among other volunteer duties.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, in his speech, after seeing on TV the planes hitting the towers on that fateful day, said. “At that moment I knew my life was going to change.”
A moment that made many change their perspective of safety and was followed by new security measures forever changed by 9/11. A moment that is blazed into the history books and caused many to know exactly what they were doing at the time.
Elks Lodge #168 president, Michael Bradsha, said, “Grandparents can tell you where they were when Pearl Harbor happened.” Noting that 9/11 was now a similar emotionally searing moment now for multiple generations.
Former President George W. Bush signed the resolution to make Sept. 11 Patriot Day on September 4, 2002. A day that is now noted on many calendars.
Patriot Day at Centennial Park provided many visuals such as 2,977 small flags (honoring the original 9/11 victims) posted in the surrounding lawns, a large flag attached to a La Mesa Fire Department’s ladder truck, a paper emblem noting 9/11, and other American and State of California flags.
Reserve El Cajon Police Officer Marc Bailey, who worked at a tv station back east when 9/11 happened, told the story of reporting 9/11 as it was happening on air. A rapidly unfolding story to the staff but that also prompted the station personnel to bring in crisis counselors.
Bailey prompted the attendees to turn their eyes to the American flag that was then extended 10 stories high by the fire truck’s ladder. Morse High School’s JROTC performed a drum cadence while the flag was hoisted high and waved in the wind.
Bill Earley, regional executive officer for the American Red Cross, expressed gratitude to Anderson for organizing this event for seven years. This is officially the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Earley encouraged all to “Never forget.”