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Ceres remembers tragedy
Public safety and city officials, veterans, clergy and the public paused Friday at noon to pay tribute to the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.

Hosted at Whitmore Park, the short ceremony included an honor guard comprised of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion. The ceremony included speeches by Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk and Mayor Chris Vierra, posting of colors, the singing of the National Anthem by Jim Barton and the playing of taps.

Sunday marked the tenth 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. A total of 114 nations were represented in the casualties.

Pastor Adrian Condit of Village Chapel Free-Will Baptist Church in Ceres led off the ceremony with an invocation. He asked the crowd to "remember we need a higher power to get us through the hurt and pain."

"Our country, and the rest of the world, experienced an incredible loss on Sept. 11," said Mayor Vierra. "The survivors of the attacks, those who lost loved ones, and the rest of us who lost fellow Americans, had their lives forever changed after that fateful day. Nine/11 shook this country and the rest of the world to its core. Things have never been the same since."

The mayor implored residents of Ceres to "not forget the survivors of the attacks, the families who lost their loved ones, and the veterans who have courageously and selflessly served our country."

On a personal note, Vierra shared that he remembered witnessing the historic event on TV in a Mississippi diner. He said the event made him "realize as a nation we have to come together."

The theme of unity was echoed by deWerk who noted that "the people of the United States pulled together in ways not seen previously for decades, and showed how tough, resourceful and resolute we could actually be."

He drew parallels to the economic crisis gripping the nation, saying the same type of unity and resoluteness needs to be tapped. "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."

In delivering his benediction, Rev. Condit spoke from his heart saying America has "drifted away from our unity" and needs to transcend political philosophies, praying "for our state and nation come together." He asked all to "do what we can do to bring our nation together."