Memories, special events mark Sept. 11

3,000 shoes at Cal Expo to represent those who died
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Ten years after a terrorist attack rocked the United States, local officials and residents are remembering where they were that fateful day and honoring those who died while still looking toward the future. Public safety officers remember Auburn Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi said he was living and working in Sonoma County at the time of the attack. He was on a California incident management team and got a call that he was on standby. He went to work as usual and waited for direction. D’Ambrogi said it was hard to believe that the attack actually happened. “It was almost surreal when you looked at the magnitude of what happened and what was happening,” he said. “Our media today … it was live (real) time. You could see the stuff happen, which added that much more credibility to it. For me personally, it was kind of like, ‘Wow, this can’t be happening’ type of situation — something that no one would have ever thought of.” D’Ambrogi said the incident created a new environment of learning, training, understanding and communication, bringing public safety agencies closer together. Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn said he was a sergeant on a Community Action Team for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. It was his day off and he got a call in the morning about the attack. The office’s specialized teams were eventually called in. His team began preparing the area should an incident happen there and things be turned against the area like the planes were turned against their targets. “We didn’t know who the enemy was at that time,” Ruffcorn said. “We had to basically start … identifying places where we could be evacuating people, what are the hard targets in our area that could be used as weapons?” The event caused a range of emotions and a question of how he would respond as a public safety officer if something were to happen in Riverside County, Ruffcorn said. “It was truly surreal when we started finding out the magnitude of this incident, and then when we started getting the briefings of all the other planes up in the air and not knowing how many of them had been hijacked also,” he said. “The fist thing I questioned (when I saw the news footage) was, ‘Is this a movie or what is this?’ You are kind of in disbelief.” Students explore unity after tragedy Thirty students from three government and U.S. history classes at Horizon Charter School S.K.I.E. Academy recently finished 10 projects about American exceptionalism, looking at the country’s founding documents and national identity and how they have shaped, or will shape, government in the past, present and future. The projects were tied to the Sept. 11 attacks. Michelle Jordan, a history teacher at the school, said the point of the project was to look back at how people approached problems in the past, how we could use that knowledge today and how we could keep that knowledge in mind for the future. Sophomore Andrew Lowery, 15, and his group mates created a project called “Unity+Responsibility=Change.” In the middle of the group’s poster was a 3-D image of the Twin Towers, but they also pulled from another tragic event in the past. “We are drawing from Pearl Harbor to bring a sort of 9/11 type of event that unified the nation,” Andrew said. “We are showing with how unity and responsibility, we can change the future.” Junior Madeline Nunnink, 16, and her group members created a project called “Deconstructing Our Past to Frame our Future.” The project explored the theme of bringing back unity that builds after tragedies, like Sept. 11, but then fizzles out. “We focused on five different documents from the past and all of them have the theme of patriotism and unity,” Nunnink said. “(The project) was mainly focused on the five documents from the past, but just after major disasters in our country it seems like we have unity for awhile and then it goes out. We just want to bring back the unity we had.” Junior Jacob Ivey, 15, said his project examined the fact that even though there have been a lot of problems in United States history, the country has come away from them strongly. Jordan said the project enabled the students to connect with the terrorist attacks, which most of them had a more vague knowledge of because of their age. “We are still at war post Sept. 11, but the country is so fixated on so many other things that, except for the anniversary, they don’t think about it, they don’t hear about it, so it wouldn’t be something they would even connect to.” 3,000 pairs of shoes collected The NorCal Tea Party Patriots, along with KTKZ and Fox 40 News, are hosting a free Sept. 11 memorial celebration from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday at Cal Expo in Sacramento. As part of the event the organization has collected over 3,000 pairs of donated shoes that will be laid out as a visual memorial for the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on Sept. 11. Auburn resident Cliff Taylor is participating in the event. “I was part of the committee that helped put the shoes together,” Taylor said. “All of those shoes are going to be used for a reminder, as we are going to put them out there at Cal Expo with an American flag between the two shoes. We are putting out one pair of shoes for every person that was killed on that day. Then those shoes will be going out to people who need shoes.” Taylor said the event is important because it will remind people of that day. “I think we should remember what happened 10 years ago,” he said. “When I saw what was happening … when it came on, I couldn’t believe anybody would do something like that, and I think we need to remember that there are people that will do anything to hurt us here in the United States. And I think it’s important to remember the innocent people who lost their lives for no reason, and all they did was go to work or get on an airplane.” Auburn resident Peggy McCray said the event is all about respecting those who were lost, no matter their background. “I think to see they were Americans that died that day — not black or white, no colors, they were people that died that day. Hopefully we will be able to get past all this and be able to move forward with life. That was a horrible time in our history and hopefully we learned from it.” The event will also include a number of speakers, the National Anthem, a skydiver corresponding with the raising of the flag, a bag pipe rendition of Amazing Grace, a moment of silence at the exact time of the attacks and more. Remembering, but moving forward Ruffcorn said although Sept. 11 is a time to think of the tragedy that occurred, it is also a time to celebrate our country. “On the 10th anniversary of this tragic event, it’s a day to remember truly what occurred and the people who died in this tragic tragedy, terrorist attack, but it’s also a day to remember that we do live in the greatest country in the world,” he said. “And because of the resolve of the people who live here, we can celebrate who we are as being the wonderful country that we live in. I think it is important to remember that we do live in the greatest country in the world.” Reach Bridget Jones at