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Hundreds Gather to Honor 9/11 Heroes, Victims at Yorba Linda Ceremony

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Hundreds Gather to Honor 9/11 Heroes, Victims at Yorba Linda Ceremony

Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Carol Cassis

Carol Cassis

9/11/2023

Updated: 9/11/2023

YORBA LINDA, Calif.—Over 200 gathered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum to honor fallen victims and heroes of 9/11, 22 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The ceremony was interspersed with bagpipe honors by the Orange County Fire Authority Pipes and Drums, the Presentation of the Colors by the U.S. Marines, and patriotic musical performances by the Orange Community Master Chorale.
Among those in attendance were Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, ceremony Emcee Chris Nordyke of the Nixon Foundation—which, in part, supports exhibits and events at the Orange County library and museum—and Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy, who each gave speeches commemorating the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives that day.
Chief Brian Fennessy spoke of “ordinary heroes” within the New York Fire Department who sacrificed their lives to save civilians escaping the Twin Towers, including firefighter Kevin Pfifer.
Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Fennessy described how Lt. Pfifer bypassed the opportunity to leave for safety from the building he had rushed to as a first responder and instead climbed to the ninth floor where he redirected civilians and other firefighters to a safer route, a gesture that saved countless lives but cost him his own life.
“As incredible as these stories are, they were commonplace at 9/11,” Mr. Fennessy said. “One of our nation’s darkest hours, produced some of our nation’s brightest moments.”
Despite the toll the attacks took on the nation, Mr. Fennessy emphasized hope in his speech commemorating fallen victims.
“While it’s natural for us to dwell on the cruelty and horror that innocent people faced at 9/11, today, we honor the fullness of their lives, including the final moments in which all of them in some form or other became ordinary heroes,” he said.
A choir sings at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A choir sings at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Orange County Fire Authority firefighters conduct a bell-ringing ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Orange County Fire Authority firefighters conduct a bell-ringing ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A U.S. marine lifts the USMC flag at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A U.S. marine lifts the USMC flag at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Sheriff Barnes echoed similar sentiments, adding the importance of future generations to “never forget” the attacks and their impact on the U.S.
“As time recedes and new generations come of age, 9/11 will become less of a personal memory. That day of such consequence, risks becoming another event on the pages of a history book,” Mr. Barnes said during his speech.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Many of those working in law enforcement who helped implement more safeguards to prevent future attacks have since left or retired, Mr. Barnes said, and the younger generations may not be as familiar with such precautions.
According to Mr. Barnes, only 12 percent of the current 2,000 deputies at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department worked for the agency during the 9/11 attacks, with over 60 percent—many of whom were toddlers during 9/11—hired 10 years after the attacks.
Such turnover, he said, makes such agencies vulnerable.
“With this turnover comes a lack of context into [9/11 precautions] over two decades ago,” Mr. Barnes said. “While the threat horizon has changed, the policies and principles enacted after 9/11 are more important now than ever before.”
Mr. Barnes urged for policies to bolster national security including border security and mitigating cyber threats.
Also on hand was Los Angeles Fire Captain Robert Cordobes, who was a member of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Team at the time of the attacks. His unit was flown overnight Sept. 11, 2001, to New York to help excavate bodies trapped under the rubble.
Los Angeles Fire Capt. Robert Cordobes speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Los Angeles Fire Capt. Robert Cordobes speaks at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The 36-year fire veteran recalled the destruction he and his unit encountered during their 11 days working at Ground Zero.
“Everything was grey [from the dust], there was no color to New York City at the time,” he said during his speech.
According to Mr. Cordobes, he and his unit never found any survivors during their mission, and instead helped recover the bodies of the New York Fire Department captains who had died during their own rescue missions the day of the attacks.
Orange County Fire Authority firefighters fold up the American flag at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Orange County Fire Authority firefighters fold up the American flag at a ceremony in honor of 9/11 victims at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

People walk out of the Nixon Library after a ceremony honoring 9/11 victims in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

People walk out of the Nixon Library after a ceremony honoring 9/11 victims in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Carol Cassis

Carol Cassis

Author

California Insider
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