American flags wave in the wind in Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
American flags wave in the wind in Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

Solemn ceremonies were held across the Southland Thursday as elected officials, first-responders and residents gathered to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that left nearly 3,000 people dead.

“The acts of heroism that we remember, and those who died doing that, is why we are here today,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said during the annual remembrance ceremony at the Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center in Elysian Park, where a piece of metal from the World Trade Center is on display.

Also taking part in the ceremony was retired New York Fire Department Lt. Paul Geidel, whose son died while responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Thirteen years ago, I lost my son, firefighter Gary Geidel, along with 11 other members of Rescue Company 1,” Geidel said. “A total of 343 firefighters were lost that day, along with thousands or innocent people. I spent eight and a half months digging at Ground Zero, first on the pile, and then in the pit.”

The remains of Geidel’s son were never recovered.

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck were also on hand for the ceremony.

“We come together to remember, and to honor our heroes,” Beck said.

Terrazas is also expected to take part in a remembrance ceremony Thursday night at LAFD Station 88, the Sherman Oaks home of the search-and-rescue team that deployed to New York following the attacks.

In Hollywood, L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge was among those joining first responders in a 9/11 Remembrance Breakfast sponsored by the American Legion’s Hollywood Post 43.

Trinity Classical Academy, 28310 Kelly Johnson Parkway in Santa Clarita, marked the anniversary with its second annual 9/11: Never Forget Project ceremony, featuring presentations by the academy’s Young Americans for Freedom Chapter and the singing of God Bless America.

Beverly Hills officials will hold that city’s annual remembrance ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial Garden at 445 N. Rexford Drive. The ceremony will include the laying of a wreath and ringing of bells.

In Torrance, the anniversary will be marked with a performance of “110 Stories,” a play featuring 14 actors who tell 110 stories recounting the actions of heroes during the attacks.

“These stories will recall the feelings each of us had that fateful day, the pain and anguish we all felt for the people lost and injured, but also the incredible pride and joy we experienced because of those unintended heroes of all races, creeds and political affiliation, who save so many,” said Gene Dotson, the play’s producer.

The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles will host the West Coast premiere screening of “Liberty, Courage and Hope: The Portrait of an American Hero,” followed by a question-and-answer session with director Kevin Dornan.

The film, narrated by Alec Baldwin, was originally intended to be a multimedia tribute to American firefighters. It’s focus changed when the film’s main subject, New York firefighter Mike Weinberg, died at the World Trade Center — years after the film’s final photo was shot, featuring Weinberg on a fire boat with the WTC towers in the background.

Pepperdine University held a midday service in its Heroes Garden, honoring all the victims of the attacks, but particularly alum Tom Burnett, who was aboard United Airlines flight 93 and helped rush the hijackers, leading to the plane’s crash in Pennsylvania. Burnett’s daughter, Halley, is a freshman at Pepperdine.

City News Service

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