Columbia County remembrances on the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks not only honored those who lost their lives but offered the community a chance to emotionally rebuild.
"What we did today was simple, heartfelt and short, but bringing everybody together like this helps us all to continue to heal," said Pam Tucker, director of the county's emergency services. "People don't need on this day, the second anniversary, to be alone thinking about what happened and not have the opportunity to share. This provided that opportunity."
Dozens of residents, emergency responders and Columbia County officials turned out for separate morning ceremonies at the Columbia County Justice Center and Martinez fire stations.
At 9:58 a.m. - a minute before the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed two years ago - firefighters at the Martinez Fire Department's headquarters on Washington Road solemnly bowed their heads during a moment of silence and remembered their lost brethren.
"People ask us, 'Why we are here?' because we didn't know those people," the fire department's chaplain, Richard Thigpen, said over a radio broadcast for all six Martinez fire stations. "No, we didn't know those people, but we knew their lives. They dedicated their lives to a service to save lives. We will never forget what they stood for - a brotherhood. Let's never forget them."
Frank Deriso, a New York native and fire department volunteer, and his daughter Ashley, 3, placed a single rose at the base of a flagpole in memory of friends killed in the attacks in New York City.
"We lost a lot of friends," said his wife, Dawn.
Martinez firefighter Frank Deriso, a native of new York, and his daughter Ashley, 3, place a red rose at the base of the flagpole in front of Martinez Fire Department Headquarters during a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The most important thing is never to forget, Capt. Dino Cesarini said.
"If we forget, then they died in vain," he said after three sets of five chimes sounded from the fire department's bell. "I won't let that happen."
Bells also chimed at the Columbia County Justice Center, where Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ron Cross reiterated the importance of remembering the fallen while continuing with daily life.
"We must devote ourselves to nurturing our families and loved ones," he said while standing next to the center's flagpole, where the national and state flags flew at half-staff. "And we must continue the genuine outpouring of caring for others. It this way our country and county will be fortified and continue to pay tribute and honor those who were lost two years ago today."
The Rev. Cynthia Taylor, pastor of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Martinez, said she believes that people who missed the ceremonies and went on with their daily routines played a major role in the healing process as well.
"Last year, on this day, we gathered in masses at services and remembrances of the first anniversary," said Taylor in a speech at the Justice Center ceremony. "We were tenderly probing a collective wound to see how much it still hurt.
"Two years later, there are not so many people setting aside time today to reflect and to give thanks. They are at or on their way to work, sitting in classrooms, working out at the Y or grabbing a cup of coffee. They're at the grocery store or driving down Washington Road. They're doing the normal things of life. And that is as it should be. That very normality is a sign of victory over those who wanted to crush this country."
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