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Community and Schools Gather to Remember 9/11

Sep 12, 2016 09:40AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The events of September 11 have a special significance for Manhattan Beach, as the remnants of the World Trade Center towers stand guard at the heart of Manhattan Beach's downtown.

City officials, firefighters, police, and residents gathered at that spot at 8:46 a.m. on September 11 in a solemn ceremony to honor and remember the victims of that tragic day.

"With this amazing and iconic memorial before me, Manhattan Beach stands proud," said Manhattan Beach Mayor Tony D'Errico.

Manhattan Beach Fire Department Captain/Paramedic Tim O'Brien spoke about his experience on 9/11 and the meaning to him of the memorial. O'Brien and Engineer/Paramedic Jeff Sanders of the Manhattan Beach Fire Department had traveled to New York City in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to assist in rescue efforts.

"[The World Trade Center complex] was a vast sea of twisted steel, too hot to touch with your bare hands," said O'Brien. "We worked in 12-hour shifts, then slept, then went back to the pile, searching and recovering people no one could rescue."

O'Brien and Sanders then went on to play central roles in the development of the 9/11 memorial in Manhattan Beach. In discussing the significance of the memorial, O'Brien quoted the 9/11 Memorial design team of Pat Killen, Scott Yanofsky, and Steve Oliker, who saw the city's memorial as "a tribute to people's collective ability to respond to trauma."

Following additional remarks from Police Chief Eve Irvine, Police Lieutenant Ryan Small, and Fire Chief Robert Espinosa, firefighters rang a traditional five-bell salute to honor fallen firefighters. A vocal group and string ensemble from Manhattan Beach MIddle School also provided music for the ceremony.

Earlier in the week, schools held their own memorial ceremonies. At Robinson Elementary School on Friday, September 9, city and school officials, as well as police and firefighters, local veterans, parents, and students paid tribute with songs and patriotic displays. Longtime Manhattan Beach residents Peff EickĀ  and Rick Lyman performed "This Land Is Your Land," on guitar and banjo respectively.

Robinson Principal John Jackson noted that today's elementary students were not even born at the time of the tragedy, but that these ceremonies serve as touchstones for young people to understand the significance of the event. "Events like these will make sure that we will never forget," he said.

At Grand View Elementary School on Thursday, September 8, students heard from Eick and Lyman as well as vocalists Aimee Fahlbusch, Paige Blum, Bailey Butler, and Tamara Walker.

And on Monday morning, September 12, the Manhattan Beach MIddle School started the day with a 9/11 observance . A choral group sang "America the Beautiful" and the trumpet players performed "Taps."

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