Remembering our heroes from 9/11

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For the East County Californian

Seventeen years after the fact, the memories return vividly for many with still-painful emotions of grief and loss.

“When I think of 9/11, I think of heroism, strength and bravery,” Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez said.

Vasquez appeared as featured guest speaker at Lemon Grove’s DeWitt C. Mitchell American Legion Post 201 during the veterans group’s first-ever ceremony commemorating the victims in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

For the East County Californian

Seventeen years after the fact, the memories return vividly for many with still-painful emotions of grief and loss.

“When I think of 9/11, I think of heroism, strength and bravery,” Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez said.

Vasquez appeared as featured guest speaker at Lemon Grove’s DeWitt C. Mitchell American Legion Post 201 during the veterans group’s first-ever ceremony commemorating the victims in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Vasquez provided for Legionnaires and guests there a moving account of the self-sacrifice of her brother-in-law, Angel Vasquez, who was working in New York City that day.

Angel Vasquez fled the World Trade Center’s South Tower to safety. But then, he returned into the smoke of endangered high-rise building, hoping to assist others inside.

And that is how Angel Vasquez perished.

“Remember them,” Mayor Vasquez said.

She called for a moment of silence. She recounted her experience and thoughts as that day unfolded.

“We all remember where we were on 9/11,” Vasquez said. “As I watched the television, and I saw the coverage, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening at first.

“Nineteen terrorists affected people all around the world. They changed us, changed the way we handle security. And they united us that day.”

Larry Porter, Commander of Post 201, counted the toll by the numbers. He noted that 2,977 lives were lost as victims in the assaults, 34 of them firefighters who responded in attempts at rescue.

Stephan Hamilton is a military veteran and Legionnaire at Post 201.

Hamilton joined the post’s executive board this year and felt inspired to organize the 9/11 ceremony.

Hamilton concluded the speaker portion of the event.

“The unthinkable became thinkable,” Hamilton said. He read a poem he wrote recently in honor of the memories.

Chaplain Samuel Cummings offered a benediction prayer. Lew Witherspoon played Taps.

The post opened its doors after the ceremony for refreshments while attendees shared memories of 9/11.

“Remember all the fallen,” Hamilton said.

Porter added a parting thought, saying, “And remember to thank those protecting us today.”

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