It’s been 16 years since two planes brought down the World Trade Center. A day of infamy for those born after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As time passes and memories fade, the events lose resonance, except for those who lost loved ones or comrades.
In Coronado, flags were lowered to half-staff in memory of the fallen. There was a quiet remembrance at the fire house at 6:53 am, the exact local time when the first plane struck. A contingent of fire fighters, police officers and sailors participated. Mayor Richard Bailey and City Manager Blair King were there as well.
This is the 15th year the firehouse has honored the fallen; this year with words from Fire Chief Mike Blood and Police Chief Jon Froomin. Bells were rung and there was a moment of silence for the victims. Only a handful of residents attended. The low turnout was not unexpected.
Traditionally the fire department has kept its ceremony low key. “The public is welcome, but we don’t go out of our way to promote it,” said Captain Brian Standing.
“As tragic as that day was, it’s important to remember the bravery and valiant stories of so many folks who relished their lives and lost their lives to save others,” he said at the 9/11 Never Forgotten ceremony at the Municipal Golf Course, sponsored by 4 Heroes 4 Life.
The group is dedicated to keeping the memory of those killed alive by offering services to veterans and public service retirees, around issues of substance abuse, homelessness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Founder Mark George is a retired San Diego Deputy Fire Marshal and Navy veteran, who lost his friend and fellow fire fighter Steve Mercado on 9/11. Mercado was one of the New York City Fire Fighters to respond. He perished along with 343 firefighters and 412 emergency workers. Mercado’s remains were never found, not even a trace of DNA. “My friend disintegrated,” George said.
The loss inspired George to look for a way not only to honor the fallen, but to create something that would benefit other veterans and first responders.
The event at the golf course was to be the first annual event to honor first responders and raise funds. A foursome of San Diego firefighters played in the tournament and a contingent of police offers attended the ceremony.
Despite the poor showing, George said he was committed to Coronado and would hold the event here next year.
Next year it will be 17 years since the towers fell. Those who lost colleagues, family and friends will remember. Will those who didn’t, or who were too young or not even born, remember? These events will help keep the stories and memories alive.