LONG BEACH - State and local officials, as well as numerous fire fighting and law enforcement agencies, came together last Wednesday in Long Beach during a ceremony to mark the one year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The ceremony was held at Stanley Field, across the street from the Long Beach Fire Station, and was one which also honored the work of local firefighters, law enforcement officers, U.S. Coast Guard crews and EMTs.
"This anniversary is one of tragedy and triumph," said Long Beach Police Chief Dave Sexton, who cited the fact that the terrorists didn't bring people to their knees as they had hoped, but instead brought the American people to their feet with patriotism.
The ceremony was attended by representatives from agencies including Pacific County Fire District No. 1, Long Beach Fire Department, Chinook Fire Department, Naselle Fire Department, Long Beach Ambulance, Pacific County Sheriff's Office, Long Beach Police Department, Washington State Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, as well as representatives from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. A number of local and state officials also attended the ceremony.
"It's a beautiful day, but a somber moment," said Long Beach Mayor Dale Jacobson. "We need to speak out about our own local heroes who contribute to the safety of our community - the firemen, the police, EMTs and the Coast Guard."
Jacobson said that at a time like Sept. 11 and its one year anniversary, the appreciation of the efforts of the men and women in these agencies comes to the forefront. He went on to proclaim Sept. 11 a day of remembrance for all the local firefighters and law enforcement officers who have served the community both in the past and in the present. This day will include, each year, lowering flags to half-mast.
Also attending the Sept. 11 ceremony was Sen. Sid Snyder, D-Long Beach, who addressed the members of all of the agencies which attended.
"Today we realize that hero means to save and protect the people," said Snyder. "This is why you are all heroes."
Rep. Mark Doumit, D-Olympia, touched on the resiliency of the American people after the attacks, which left approximately 3,000 people dead. He went on to say how the attacks, instead of instilling fear, awakened courage and patriotism.
"We have the courage to rise above it," said Doumit. "The heroes of 9/11 are all around us."
Doumit said as a nation in a global community, everyone now needs to make sure that the type of terrorism which took place on Sept. 11, 2001 never occurs again. But he warned that human rights need to be protected during this vigilence, and said the United States needs to be a leader to set an example for other countries.
Giving an often emotional speech was Rep. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, who touched on how the area's firefighters, law enforcement officers and Coast Guard crews often, and without thoughts of their own safety, rush in to save those in distress.
Pacific County Sheriff John Didion touched on his first reaction to the terrorist attacks, describing the shock, anger and feeling of being vulnerable as a nation, but cited that this feeling did not last.
"I look around today and see the terrorists have not succeeded," said Didion. "We cannot let them instill fear. I thank God every day I'm an American citizen."
Didion said it has been frustrating for him and others in law enforcement in the last year, wanting to do more in the quest to catch the terrorists and prevent more terrorism, but said he realized the first line of defense is with each community's law enforcement agencies.
The Sept. 11 one year anniversary ceremony was organized by Pacific County Fire District No. 1 Fire Chief Tom O'Donohue, who said he was very pleased by how the event turned out. He said he started putting the ceremony together as a Fire District No. 1 event, but then he decided to invite people from all the different agencies from around the area.
"I did this as a way to embrace the spirit of cooperation in the area and the overall brotherhood amongst firefighters and law enforcement," said O'Donohue.
This was the first time O'Donohue has put together an event of this type and said he was pleased to have gotten so much cooperation from officials, such as Long Beach Fire Chief David Unruh, Long Beach Assistant Fire Chief Dave Glasson and also from Long Beach Mayor Dale Jacobson.
O'Donohue also said he wanted to give thanks to those with Long Beach Public Works, who put up the bleachers, provided the P.A. system and set up chairs. He also complimented and wanted to thank Virginia Leach, who sang at the beginning and at the end of the ceremony.
"There was a lot of honor being there and a lot of pride seeing the community show up for the event," said Pacific County Fire District No. 1 Firefighter Rodney Harrington.