The victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were remembered during a brief ceremony held Monday in Whitmore Park that was attended by Congressman John Duarte and his wife, Supervisor Channce Condit and only one Ceres resident.
Nearly 3,000 were killed that day 22 years ago, making it the worst tragedy on American soil, surpassing the 2,403 deaths when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941.
Ceres resident Julie Rosenau remembered the horror as the events unfolded as she watched TV that morning.
“It was very sad,” she recalled.
She came to the event “just to honor everyone’s memory. I’m on Facebook with a group of 9/11 people. I Facebook with one of the daughters of a man that lost his life in one of the towers and it’s just always in my heart to never forget.”
Rosenau said that her father was in the service and that she always makes a habit of attending the Seventh Street Bridge Memorial Day service and wreath drop into the Tuolumne River.
“My uncle was a motorcycle cop and was New York so New York has always been in my heart."
The ceremony offered a prayer for those who died and their family as well as first-responders.
Yolanda Whited, commander of the Ceres Post 491 of the American Legion, gave brief remarks: “On this day, 22 years ago, America was attacked by foreign terrorism group that did not approve of our democracy. At approximately 8:46 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of fuel, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Eighteen minutes later a second plane hit the World Trade Center’s South Tower. It immediately became clear that America was under attack. At 9:45 another plane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon. As the chaos was unfolding in Washington, United flight 93 was hijacked after leaving New Jersey, crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“A total of 2,977 innocent people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. Men, women and children from over the world lost their lives that day. First-responders took a heavy toll, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers.
“At the Pentagon, 125 military and support staff were killed.
To this day, thousands more have died from related toxic exposure.”
The ceremony included the ringing of the bell four times for each location, a moment of silence, a 21-gun salute by the Honor Guard and playing of taps.
Supervisor Condit said he was 12 and in the sixth grade at Modesto Christian School when the fateful day occurred.
“I was living at my grandparents’ house on Acorn (Lane) and I vividly remember walking down the hall and seeing the TV my mom was watching, seeing the towers engulfed in flames,” said Condit. “I thought that we were going to war but I never knew the lasting impression it would have on our country. It was essentially my generation’s Pearl Harbor.
Condit remembers school was dismissed for half a day.
Ceres veteran John Warren had just retired and remembers his wife running into the room, announcing “We’re going to war!”
Congressman John Duarte said he first heard about the attack that morning from one of the employees of Duarte Nursery who called to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Initial thoughts of it being an accident quickly evaporated when he flipped on his TV just in time to see the second plane flown straight into the second tower.
While airport security measures implemented in the aftermath of 9/11 virtually assure a similar attack won’t take place in the future, Rep. Duarte fears the threat to America’s security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We have people coming across the border right now every day from all over the world,” said Duarte. “These aren’t aspiring farmworkers. These are anybody and everybody who wants to pay the cartels $5,000 to come to America. They’ve actually had some on the terrorist watch list coming across the southern border so the southern border is the prime risk to Americans today.”
Earlier this year Duarte voted against HR 2, the Border Security Bill, because he felt it wouldn’t be effective in securing the border.
“HR 2 has nothing in it to get Democrat support in the Senate,” said congressman. “It didn’t have a guest worker program. It didn’t have a DACA fix so it was never going to become policy. It was only going to be a messaging bill. I wanted a real policy bill that would have had enough compromise in it to actually secure the border.”
Duarte added that he wants to see the border wall finished.
“I’ve been all over this district. I’ve spoken to people and there is a large consensus in this district. We’re dealing with the fentanyl, we’re dealing with the gangs, we’re dealing with the open border issues. We’ve got people who’ve been working here in America for five, 10 years, who have less rights, less access to a work visa than people coming across and making a fake asylum claim right now. “
Duarte said he doesn’t understand the Biden administration’s actions in the face of his flagging job approval numbers, only that “we’ve got to replace him.”
“I’m going to support the Republican candidate for president. We’ve got to change course.”