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Ceres pauses to remember Sept. 11
Approximately 150 persons attended a noon Friday ceremony at Whitmore Park to pay homage to those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The event, sponsored by the Ceres Department of Public Safety and the local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, was followed up by a 7 p.m. candlelight vigil.

The event was well represented by police officers, firefighters, city officials and veterans. Ceres resident Ivy Laffoon came out to remember. "We have to be thankful for those who died trying to help get us through this," said Laffoon. She was among the guests who filled a large sheet with sentiments drawing back to eight years ago.

Friday marked the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The attack - accomplished when Islamic extremists hijacked three planes and ran them into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania corn field - was the worst in American history. More than 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center in New York City, 125 died at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and 256 died on the four planes. The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.

Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella recognized public safety personnel on hand. Cannella noted that the attacks took the lives of approximately 400 police officers, firefighters and paramedics.

"Any time there's grave danger the rest of the public is running away from the scene, our firefighters and police officers are running into the scene," said Cannella. "I just remember seeing those firefighters go into those buildings and ultimately lose their lives. I just can't thank all of you enough for what you do. It amazes me that when I want to run away, you want to run into."

Cannella said "9/11 shook this country and the rest of the world to the core and things have never been and I believe never will be the same."

He also asked Cereans to remember survivors, family members and veterans who died in the conflicts following Sept. 11, 2001.

Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk gave brief remarks.

"Killing close to 3,000 innocent people to make a point and with the hopes of crippling the country's economy constituted nothing short of actions carried out by the devil himself," said deWerk.

He made a connection between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 11, 2009. He said that the uncertainties and societal unease that we shared eight years ago is incarnate in feelings about an economic disaster. "Today our crisis does not come in the form of a vicious attack from religious zealots. The damage has come from within, and to a large extent, the effect on our economy has been far greater than what resulted from 9/11 in 2001. So now, albeit for different reasons, we have an entire nation existing in a state of insecurity, living in fear of what new economic problems will befall us next. Just as we did in the days and months following the tragedies of 9/11, we must pull together as a country to work through the tough times we are all facing."

He concluded by saying that "any society that can work through devastation as great as what happened on 9/11 is a nation that can tackle any problem."

Ceres police chaplain Joel Richards offered a prayer to God for special comfort for those who lost family members as well as those struggling to understand what took place that day. He also gave thanks and asked for protection for law enforcement and firefighters.