New York City is more than 2,500 miles from the San Ramon Valley, but it didn't seem that far away on Sept. 11, 2001. Just about everyone lost something that day. The feeling of safety, belief in the invincibility of the U.S. and trust in others to name just a few.
Some locals lost a lot more. They lost loved ones on that horrendous day.
Dan Mullan of Danville lost a beloved cousin. Michael Mullan, a New York City firefighter, responded to a mayday call from firefighters trapped inside the World Trade Center's North Tower. He never came out.
Deena Burnett of San Ramon lost her husband on that day, and their three daughters, ages 3 to 5 at the time, lost their father. Thomas Burnett of San Ramon, vice president and chief operating officer of Thoratec Corporation in Pleasanton, was aboard United Airlines Flight 93.
Burnett and several other passengers stormed the cockpit, foiling the hijackers' plan to crash the plane into the White House or Capitol Building. To prevent the passengers from taking control of the plane, the hijackers crashed it in a Pennsylvania field, killing everyone on board.
Our nation still mourns the 2,977 people killed in the attack, and the first responders who have subsequently died from 9/11-related illnesses. It will take many more years for most to overcome the horrors of that day. Some of us will never be the same.
That awful day left us humbled, but also united and resolved to "never forget."
Several local remembrance events are scheduled to mark the 18th anniversary of the tragedy next Wednesday.
In honor of the first responders and victims from the terrorist attacks and the military members who subsequently served overseas, the Exchange Club of San Ramon Valley will hold its annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the All Wars Memorial in Oak Hill Park, 3005 Stone Valley Road in Danville.
John F. Bennett will serve as this year's keynote speaker. The current FBI special agent in charge in San Francisco, Bennett witnessed firsthand the World Trade Center attacks from his position in an FBI field office in Newark, N.J. His ensuing role in the U.S. government's investigation led him in time to interview hundreds of 9/11 survivors.
As in years past, the service will include over 100 Scouts, the Sheriff's Honor Guard and bagpipers and the Monte Vista High School Choir. The event is free, and attendees are asked to arrive by 4:55 p.m. for reserved seating. Free ice cream will be served at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Local first responders will commemorate the occasion with a tribute at all 10 Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department stations.
Each LPFD remembrance will begin at 6:45 a.m. when fire engines, firefighters and guests join on the front driveway. A moment of silence will follow at 6:59 a.m. after an announcement from fire dispatch, in recognition of the time when the South Tower fell in 2001.
Flags will be lowered to half-staff at 7 a.m. and military and public safety personnel will stand at attention and salute at the direction of the fire command leader. LPFD command team members are due to be spread across the stations, including a lead delegation at Station 1 (3560 Nevada St. in Pleasanton).
Las Positas College will host its annual 9/11 Remembrance at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the college, 3000 Campus Hill Drive in Livermore, in the patio quad area outside of Building 1600.
There will be singing of the national anthem, with local 55 Oakland Fire honor guard presenting colors.
The keynote speaker will be Master Gunnery Sgt. Edward Guerrero. The Marine Corps veteran and Oakland Fire Department captain will share his stories of resilience and healing after 9/11, his experiences of serving in the Marines and his calling to pursue a career in the fire profession.
Guests are invited to share their stories of what they remember on that tragic day for healing and coming together as a community and nation.
The organizers need donated shoes for the event. To honor the 412 fallen first responders, boots and shoes with flags and their names will be placed on the perimeter of the quad outside of Building 1600. Donated shoes may be brought to the Veterans Resource Center until Sept. 9. Shoes will then be donated to charity.