A small informal Whitmore Park ceremony held Wednesday morning, Sept. 11 paid homage to those who died in the terrorist attacks on the nation 18 years prior.
The event, arranged by the Ceres Post of the American Legion, included a short talk by Pastor Adrian Condit of Village Chapel Freewill Baptist Church in Ceres before leading a small group into prayer. Walt Butler said it was important to remember not only the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost that day but the ill health and deaths of those first-responders who have suffered since that horrible day.
Members of the public attended as well as city officials and police and firefighters.
The event lasted about 15 minutes and marked the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The attack – accomplished when Islamic extremists hijacked three planes and flew 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 2,974 victims were confirmed to have died in the initial attacks. In 2007, the New York City medical examiner’s office began to add people who died of illnesses caused by exposure to dust from the site to the official death toll. The first such victim was a civil rights lawyer who had died from a chronic lung condition in February 2002.
In September 2009, the office added a man who died in October 2008, and in 2011, a male accountant who had died in December 2010. This raises the number of victims at the World Trade Center site to 2,753, and the overall 9/11 death toll to 2,996.
As of August 2013, medical authorities concluded that 1,140 people who worked, lived, or studied in Lower Manhattan at the time of the attack have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of “exposure to toxins at Ground Zero.” It has been reported that over 1,400 9/11 rescue workers who responded to the scene in the days and months after the attacks have since died. At least 11 pregnancies were lost as a result of 9/11. Neither the FBI or New York City officially recorded the casualties of the 9/11 attacks in their crime statistics for 2001, with the FBI stating in a disclaimer that “the number of deaths is so great that combining it with the traditional crime statistics will have an outlier effect that falsely skews all types of measurements in the program’s analyses.”