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9/11 ceremonies slated

By: Loryll Nicolaisen Journal Staff Writer
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Thursday marks the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. It’s a day of remembrance, to reflect on lives lost and the long-lasting effects those attacks continue to have on the nation and beyond. The day also acts as a reminder that Auburn, just like every other community, is kept safe by first responders who risk their lives on a daily basis. Local residents are planning events this week to take a look back to that day, but also to express gratitude for local law enforcement and rescue agencies. “We’re inviting the community to come out and remember 9/11 and also to honor those locally who meet our 911 needs every day in the community,” said Robert Martinez, head of elders at Grace Christian Fellowship Church. “To me, they put their lives on the line for us every day. We have emergencies every day when they put on their uniforms, they put their lives on the line. I remember 9/11, but my focus is here in the community and what the people here do every day.” The Auburn church holds a community dinner and ceremony, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, at Auburn’s Recreation Park. A donation-based dinner is served from 5-6:30 p.m., followed by presentations by representatives from Auburn’s police and fire departments, Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy. Donations from Thursday’s event will be given to local first-responder agencies, Martinez said. Some 200 people attended last year’s ceremony, which featured a viewing of “The Cross and the Towers,” a documentary film. “We were as giddy as someone who had just won the Lotto,” Martinez said. “We were blessed.” Pastor Darren Bills mirrored that thought. “We just felt the response of the community getting behind the first responders,” he said. Bills spent a few weeks in New York City back in 1996, and has been back since the attacks and visited ground zero. “Just imagining those (towers) there, and then they’re suddenly gone,” he said. “It’s like missing your right arm.” Terry Morgan, senior chaplain and executive director of the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, appreciates the idea behind and plans to speak at Thursday’s ceremony. “I can tell you, as first responders, we don’t get thanked too often,” he said. “It means a lot to me. These men and women are laying down their lives for us every day, and it’s nice to recognize that.” Morgan was called to Sacramento International Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, spending more than 24 hours working at the airport with other chaplains, staff and law enforcement. “It was actually a pretty eerie feeling being at the airport with no planes taking off,” he recalled. “I remember talking to one employee who would have been on a plane, but changed shifts, and having the survivor’s guilt.” Despite the devastation, there has been some positive outcome in a post-Sept. 11 society, Morgan said. “As terrible as this event was, it really drew people together, and it really raised awareness across the country about patriotism and loving your country,” he said. The following evening, Auburn Cruise Nite holds a ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday on the front porch of the Auburn Promenade building on Lincoln Way. Patriotic music, the presentation of colors and representation of local law enforcement and other agencies are planned for the ceremony, which is concurrent with the final Cruise Nite of the season. “It’s important to remember that it happened,” Kenny said. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at AuburnJournal.com.