Just as he’s done annually since the terror strikes of Sept. 11, 2001, Orange County Fire Authority firefighter Scott Townley has put crosses and flags on his front lawn in Fullerton to honor the nearly 3,000 people who were killed, but this year he’s putting a little extra focus on a few individuals.
This year’s tribute places special emphasis on New York Fire Department Chief Peter Ganci, Army Spc. William J. Gilbert of Hacienda Heights, and Marcy Borders, who was immortalized as “Dust Lady” in an iconic photo of her covered in ash as she emerged from her office in the north tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Ganci was killed as he responded to the attacks, Gilbert was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in May 2013 and Borders died of stomach cancer Aug. 24.
Each year, Townley adds something to the tribute, he said.
“With 10 volunteers this year, it took 14 and a half hours” to set up, he said.
Next year, for the 15th anniversary he has a surprise planned, but he’s not sure if he can pull it off yet, he said.
“I’m running out of real estate here — I’ve got my driveway left and that’s about it,” he said.
Townley’s memorial is among multiple events throughout the county that will be held today to mark the 14th anniversary of the attacks.
Townley’s memorial began with a single, hand-made sign and about 20 flags in 2001. Now it includes 343 crosses for the firefighters who died helping victims in the attacks, 74 crosses for the Port Authority officers and police officers who died in New York City, and an 8-foot tall wooden cross that bears the names of every victim who was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and the downed plane in Pennsylvania.
Townley also pays tribute to the first-responders who have died of cancer and other afflictions contracted digging through Ground Zero’s rubble, and he’s also featuring walls for each branch of the military bearing the thousands of names of the service men and women who have died in the war on terrorism.
Other tributes in Orange County include:
–Costa Mesa firefighters, police and other city employees holding a 9/11 ceremony at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane struck one of the towers;
–Long Beach firefighter Gary Biggerstaff’s annual motorcycle ride has been rebranded the “Patriot Ride” and is being organized this year by the “Men of Fire MC” and Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys. The motorcycle enthusiasts will meet at the Harley Davidson store at 10 a.m. at 15080 Goldenwest Circle in Westminster and get rolling at 11 a.m. on their way to their Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon.
–The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum’s annual ceremony at 11 a.m. will include remarks by Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Barnes and a display of the Global War on Terror Wall of Remembrance, a traveling memorial.
—City News Service
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