Police and fire officials gathered with elected leaders and residents at events across the Southland Wednesday to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
In Los Angeles, a traditional gathering was held at the city fire department’s Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center in Elysian Park. The ceremony is held each year in a plaza that includes a 23-ton section of metal recovered from the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attack. The metal is the largest remnant of the World Trade Center outside New York City.
“We all for the rest of our lives — just as past generations can cite where they were when President Kennedy was killed, when Martin Luther King was assassinated — we all know where we were on 9-11,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said during the event. “I was about four blocks away living in my home when my future and now mother-in-law called to say turn on the TV. A bright Tuesday morning full of American possibility turned dark with terror.
“All of us know how we felt looking, at that moment, at those towers that were symbols of American possibility and American prosperity as they burned,” he said. “And as the first tower fell we felt the vulnerability of the first massive attack on our soil here in America since Pearl Harbor. And our nation reeled.”
Garcetti, who was a newly elected city councilman at the time, recalled how officials later learned that three of the four planes hijacked that day were bound for Los Angeles.
“We didn’t know what would happen,” he said. “We didn’t know if Los Angeles was one of the targets. And how we felt on Sept. 10 we knew would never be back with us.”
He hailed the response by 70 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department who quickly assembled and responded to the East Coast.
“They had no assigned mission, no clear responsibilities, no idea where they’d go when they arrived,” Garcetti said. “They were Americans responding to an attack on America. They did what they were trained to do. They went where help was needed.”
LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas also attended the ceremony, along with police Chief Michel Moore, county Sheriff Alex Villanueva and county fire Chief Daryl Osby.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia was among those taking part that city’s remembrance ceremony, which was held at Fire Station 1 on Magnolia Avenue. The event included a wreath-laying and a moment of silence that was observed at 9:11 a.m.
Early morning ceremonies were also held in cities including South Pasadena and Culver City, where events will be held at the three city fire stations.
In downtown Los Angeles, a panel discussion will be held at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall with members of the military and first responders telling their stories about how the attacks spurred them to enter public service.
Beverly Hills will hold its annual remembrance event at the city’s 9/11 Memorial Garden at 5:30 p.m. The event will include a wreath-laying, bell-ringing and a playing of “Taps.” The city’s police and fire chiefs will be joined by Mayor John Mirisch and members of the City Council.