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It was seven years ago and a whole coast away but Ceres paused to remember the tragedy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Thursday.

A small group of Ceres residents joined with police and fire personnel and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion Thursday evening at Whitmore Park for a small remembrance ceremony. Veterans and members of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary handed out candles for a solemn candlelight vigil.

Josh Curry Sr. of Ceres, rushed straight home from work and toted his three children to the ceremony.

"I want them to understand national patriotism and what happened on Sept. 11," said Curry. "Plus we have relatives in the military."

Daughter Jhaala Curry, 7, was just seven days old when planes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

"She wanted a bottle that morning, that's why I was up and saw it on TV," said Curry.

Jhaala said her teacher showed the class the horror of that day captured on videotape.

The ceremony included a 21-gun salute by a veterans honor guard, the playing of taps and country songs written about the tragedy.

Earlier on Thursday, the VFW and American Legion joined with Mitchell Valero Car Wash to host a fundraiser for veterans. The effort netted $700 to help out needy veterans as well as pay for honor guards assigned to veterans' funerals, said local Vietnam veteran Gary Lee Hall.

Perry Ellis of Modesto and Steve Breckenridge of Ceres stood along Mitchell Road wearing camoflauge uniforms, holding the American flag and waving to motorists. Ellis served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. Breckenridge is a member of the California State Miltary Reserves assigned to Camp Roberts.

"We'd hate for them to be forgotten," said Ellis of the 9/11 victims. "We're getting a lot of horns honking and a lot of thumbs up."

Kelly Stubblefield, an employee of the Clinton Whitmore Mansion, was compelled to pull off of Mitchell Road to personally thank Ellis - a stranger to her - for his service to the nation. She said her son Justin serves as a Marine at Twenty-nine Palms.

"I'm concerned about Americans forgetting," commented Stubblefield.

Car wash owner Sonny Singh hosted the 6 a..m. to 5 p.m. fundraiser and supplied all the hotdogs, drinks and free car washes for those who donated to the cause.

Joining in the fundraiser were Ceres brothers, Noah and Caleb Saenz of Ceres, who were decked out in patriotic costume. Their grandmother, Gloria Bridges of Ceres, was driving them down Mitchell Road when they saw the veterans and were eager to join in the event.

Keyes resident Harold "Buz" Johnson loaned his prized 1942 WWII battle Jeep and a British Armoured Scout Car mounted with a 30-caliber machine gun to be displayed. Johnson, a World War II veteran, played taps at the 9/11 observance.