Cerritos residents joined the nation Sunday in remembering the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The hour-long ceremony at the Cerritos Civic Center’s Sculpture Garden had the pomp and circumstance of many memorials throughout the country, with the entire City Council attending and other elected officials in attendance such as Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), Assemblyman Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe.
“Let us never forget those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 or those who inspired us with their bravery and generosity,” Mayor Carol Chen told the audience. “As we reflect on the tragedies of the world-changing event, let us also celebrate our nation’s strength, our unity and our outgoing spirit and patriotism.”
Attendees were greeted by several displays remembering that tragic day when the terrorist attacks killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a field outside Shanksville, Pa. Some of the exhibits included drawings from Cerritos students in the days following September 11, an outdoor memorial for the victims of the terrorist attacks on the grassy slope behind the Sculpture Garden, and a fire hydrant from the World Trade Center.
Student Anjali Gupta read excerpts from an essay she wrote as an 8-year-old for Cerritos’ Patriot Day ceremony a year after September 11 and reflected on the changes that happened to society since the terrorist attacks, saying that “my future and the future of my generation was forever altered” by the tragedy.
“We should stand together and be bold,” she read from her essay. “We should not be scared and stay proud of America.”
Reflecting on the words from her essay 10 years later, Gupta said that people should not forget the impact of September 11 on our country.
“We must make sure that the younger generation is educated about the importance of this day and that they never stop being grateful for the people who choose to live in the United States,” she said.
Fighting back tears, Rep. Sanchez spoke about what she did on that tragic day and what she saw as the resilience of the American people who “will get through” the September 11 tragedy.
“As solemn as today is, I also remembered how the nation rallied together in the face of tragedy on 9/11,” she said. “We united as Americans. Americans from different races, different faiths, different political views. It really didn’t matter. Our hearts were with the victims and their families."
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Gonzales led the audience to a moment of silence for those who perished.
The ceremony ended with a candlelight vigil and a benediction from Reverend Don Koepke.
“We learned that we as a country are vulnerable,” he said about the 2011 attacks. “We learned that we ourselves are vulnerable and out of that vulnerability comes a huge amount of fear, a huge amount of anger, a huge amount of doing anything except feeling vulnerable."