Crowd Joins In Re­mem­brance, Re­flec­tion On 9/11 An­niver­sary

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACKSON mjack­son@escalon­times.com

Fire­fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers, EMTs and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity gath­ered for a solemn cer­e­mony on Mon­day morn­ing, mark­ing 16 years since the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In a cer­e­mony staged out­side the Escalon Fire Sta­tion on Co­ley Av­enue, Fire Chief Rick Mello wel­comed at­ten­dees and said it is im­por­tant to con­tinue gath­er­ing on the an­niver­sary of the day that changed the na­tion.

“It has been called our gen­er­a­tion’s Pearl Har­bor,” he said of the at­tacks. “It’s a day we can never for­get.”

On that Septem­ber morn­ing, 16 years ago, two hi­jacked air­lin­ers crashed into the Twin Tow­ers of the World Trade Cen­ter in New York City; a third struck the Pen­tagon and a fourth went down in a field in Penn­syl­va­nia, be­lieved to have been forced down short of its in­tended tar­get by pas­sen­gers who fought back against the hi­jack­ers. The in­ci­dent im­mersed the United States in the War on Ter­ror­ism.

Mello of­fered a brief time­line of the day, from the im­pact of first air­liner hit­ting the North

Tower of the World Trade Cen­ter at 8:46 a.m.; the South Tower struck at 9:03 a.m.; the Pen­tagon hit at 9:40 a.m.; and the first of the tow­ers fall­ing, the South Tower, at 10:05 a.m.

The fourth plane crashed in a field in Penn­syl­va­nia at 10:10 a.m.; the North Tower crum­bled to the ground at 10:28 a.m.

In its wake, the co­or­di­nated ter­ror­ist at­tack claimed the life of 2,650 peo­ple in the Tow­ers, 125 at the Pen­tagon, 266 on the planes, along with 343 New York City fire­fight­ers, 37 Port Author­ity of­fi­cers and 23 New York City Po­lice Depart­ment of­fi­cers.

Since then, more than 6,800 mil­i­tary per­son­nel have been lost in the War on Ter­ror­ism, in­clud­ing James Lay­ton of Escalon, killed in ac­tion in Afghanistan in 2009. His grand­mother, Shirley Lay­ton Hughes, was on hand for the Mon­day ob­ser­vance.

A bell cer­e­mony to honor the ‘last shift’ for those lost was con­ducted and a ‘red line’ flag was raised and then low­ered to half-staff in recog­ni­tion of the supreme sac­ri­fice given by so many that day.

Tami Doom of Escalon, a United Air­lines flight at­ten­dant, who was ac­tive on that day and re­mains in the pro­fes­sion, also of­fered a few words.

“9/11 changed our coun­try, it changed my pro­fes­sion,” she said. “I was in Rochester, New York at the time and my hus­band told me I’d bet­ter turn on the TV and watch what was hap­pen­ing.”

Doom has at­tended the Escalon cer­e­mony nearly ev­ery year since it has been hosted and still grieves the loss of friends and col­leagues from that day.

“I am very proud of the train­ing we re­ceive,” she said of be­ing pre­pared.

But, she said, the thought of an­other at­tack is never far away.

“We do think of that ev­ery time we step on an air­craft,” said ad­mit­ted.

She of­fered thanks and praise to those in the emer­gency ser­vices in Escalon, as­sem­bled in a long ‘blue line’ of am­bu­lance, fire and po­lice of­fi­cers.

“You risk your lives ev­ery day for us,” she said.

Doom also thanked the fire depart­ment and the city for con­tin­u­ing to of­fer the cer­e­mony. Mello said it will be an an­nual event as long as he serves as chief.

Pas­tor Ar­ney Corbin of­fered a prayer and Couper Con­dit, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Assem­bly­man Heath Flora, also of­fered a few re­marks.

Mello added that “it’s an ugly time to be a first re­spon­der” and asked those in at­ten­dance to keep Escalon’s first re­spon­ders in their prayers.

“This blue line is what is be­tween you and harm’s way,” he said.

In clos­ing out the cer­e­mony, Mello said that the com­mu­nity and fire depart­ment also lost a good friend when Brent Lay­ton, fa­ther of James, passed away un­ex­pect­edly in June, 2015. He was ac­tive on be­half of Gold Star Fam­i­lies and is buried at the lo­cal Bur­wood Ceme­tery. How­ever, at the time of his burial, there was not enough money for a head­stone and Mello and Bat­tal­ion Chief Terry Pin­heiro re­cently con­cluded a fundrais­ing drive to se­cure one. The re­ceipt for the head­stone – which will be placed on the grave later this year – was pre­sented to Lay­ton’s mother, Shirley, at the cer­e­mony.

MARG JACKSON/THE TIMES

Escalon fire­fight­ers pre­pare to raise a ‘red line’ flag and then lower it to half-staff dur­ing Mon­day morn­ing’s cer­e­mony on the an­niver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

MARG JACKSON/THE TIMES

United Air­lines flight at­ten­dant Tami Doom of Escalon took the podium to of­fer a few re­marks at the Mon­day cer­e­mony, hosted at the Escalon fire sta­tion on Co­ley Av­enue.

MARG JACKSON/THE TIMES

Fire Chief Rick Mello, at podium, served as em­cee for the Mon­day morn­ing 9/11 cer­e­mony at the fire sta­tion and was joined by a long blue line of fire­fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers and am­bu­lance squad per­son­nel.

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