Many in the Southland took time out Monday to remember the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States that took place 16 years ago Monday.

The Los Angeles Fire Department held its annual 9/11 ceremony at the Frank Hotchkin Training Center on Stadium Way near Dodger Stadium, with LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas, Police Chief Charlie Beck and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla among those in attendance.

Terrazas paid tribute to the New York firefighters who rushed into the burning towers of the World Trade Center to successfully evacuate thousands of people in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Many did not make it out themselves: Of the nearly 3,000 Americans killed that day, more than 400 were first-responders, including 343 New York firefighters.

This year, FDNY Capt. Orio Palmer was honored for his heroism on Sept. 11, 2001. After the second plane hit the South Tower of the WTC, Palmer took an elevator to the 41st floor, then ran up 37 more flights of stairs to reach the impact zone on the 78th floor.

“Knowing that his chances of survival were slim, the man still ran up to the 78th floor to try to save lives, lives of people he did not know,” Terrazas said.

In Malibu, Pepperdine University displayed 2,977 U.S. flags on its campus in its Waves of Flags display.

In Orange County, meanwhile, firefighter Scott Townley added solid granite plaques and bright lighting to his tribute to the victims of 9/11, which has stood outside his Fullerton home for the last 16 years.

“This year, I got to do what I’ve wanted to do for many years, which was do a self-guided tour,” Townley said.

The plaques are “exactly like you would see at a museum,” he said.

The firefighter also has bright lights in each yard to illuminate the display and the plaques so visitors can come by any time and get an explanation without Townley having to supply one personally.

“I don’t have to be out there explaining what’s going on” with each part of the display, he said.

The granite and plaques were donated by KP Fab of Costa Mesa, which provides laser engraving and other similar services, Townley said.

“I just gave them the 200 words or less for each plaque,” Townley said.

The memorial to the victims of 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror has grown since the first year. Now, for instance, he has 3,077 pictures of victims mounted on 12 four-by-eight walls.

The victims include first-responders who succumbed to injuries sustained from digging out Ground Zero in New York City, he said.

As for the list of names of troops who have died in combat triggered by 9/11, Townley said it exceeds 5,700 now.

The 16th anniversary of the attacks was also marked by a memorial ceremony at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda. And Cook’s Corner motorcycle bar held its annual 9/11 memorial ride. The event began with a pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and then it was “wheels up” at 10 a.m. at Cook’s Corner at 19152 Santiago Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon.

–City News Service

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