Terror and heroism of 9/11 attacks commemorated in Santa Barbara ceremony
Slowly but clearly, their voices somber and respectful, they read the 50 names, a small portion of the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives 21 years ago today, as Santa Barbara joined communities across the county in 9/11 remembrance ceremonies.
Speaker after speaker Sunday talked about the tragedy that day, Sept. 11, 2001, and where they were when they heard the shocking, horrific news about the worst loss of American lives on U.S. soil since the Civil War, but also about the heroism displayed by the first responders who rushed toward the danger despite the risk to themselves in order to try and save lives.
The public was invited to attend the special ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of 9/11 held at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens, presented by the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
Radio talk show host Catherine Remak, who ran the ceremony, said Americans will “never forget the (nearly) 3,000 people who lost their lives” on 9/11.
“We all remember where we were that day, our feelings, our thoughts, what we saw,” she said. “This was not an accident. It was an act of terror. Everything that unfolded that day, from the horrific to the heroic, something happened that day. Like all of you, our reality changed.”
The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Teen Court program was selected as one of 60 participants across America to lead this national 9/11 day remembrance project.
Ceremonies in the selected 60 communities joined together to remember the 2,983 women, men, and children who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93. Each of the 60 inaugural communities remembered 50 of the souls lost by reading their names and short biographical information for each.
In Santa Barbara, the speakers all started with the same refrain, “We will never forget,” before reciting the names of those who died at the hands of terrorists.
Congressman Salud Carbajal called 9/11 the “single greatest tragedy to occur on U.S. soil in our lifetime.
“We pay tribute to those who paid with their lives, and left behind loved ones who continue to experience immense loss and a void which is unfillable,” he said leaving “an indelible mark on the American consciousness.”
“I remember the shock when I look back on that day,” he said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been over two decades.”
Like the speakers after him, he also noted the loss of the firefighters, police officers and paramedics who rushed in right after the attack and continue to die even today following their exposure to the toxic environment.
He also noted their bravery. “When people were running out, they were running in,” he said.
Supervisor Gregg Hart said it’s important that Americans remember the great spirit of patriotism sweeping the nation after 9/11, and that despite the divisions that exist today, to remember that “we all love our country deeply.”
He also noted that first responders today still put their lives at risk every day to protect all of us. “That ethic should illuminate our actions, what we can do to protect each other, look out for each other and care for each other,” he said. “If we do that, the events of 9/11 will have an effect on our future.”
Supervisor Das Williams said the nearly 3,000 lives cut short on 9/11 shows how fleeting life can be. He also noted the heroism and sacrifice of the first responders who, even without full knowledge of the situation, did their duty.
He also noted the great feeling of good will Americans had toward one another in the aftermath, saying we can learn something from that.
“We don’t all have to think alike but we are all together in this,” he said. “There are powerful things we as a people and a nation can accomplish if we remember that.”
District Attorney Joyce Dudley said there is something special about firefighters willing to battle flames and law enforcement willing to intervene in dangerous situations in order to save the lives of strangers.
“They risk leaving their own child without a parent to ensure the parent of another child goes home that night,” she said. “They just can’t help themselves. It is who they are at the core. Their sense of empathy for families, friends, communities and strangers” to save the lives of others “overshadows their own sense of self-preservation.
“We honor first responders and their loved ones, and hope that honor and respect lasts well beyond today.”