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Locals commemorate Sept. 11 in Power of One Foundation event, concert in Costa Mesa

Milo Levell, holds up his smartphone as he records the display of American flags during a 20-year 9/11 remembrance events.
Milo Levell holds up his smartphone as he records the display of American flags during a 20-year 9/11 remembrance event at The Hanger on Saturday at the Orange County fairgrounds.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Anyone old enough to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001, may never forget the images they saw that day or the stories of trauma and hope that followed as a nation torn apart tried to pull itself back together.

For those who lived through the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and the chaos that followed — or for those too young to recall the national tragedy firsthand — an event Saturday at Costa Mesa’s O.C. fairgrounds offered an opportunity to reflect on Sept. 11 and its aftermath and, ultimately, to heal.

Guests were invited to write a name and pin a ribbon to honor someone affected by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Guests were invited to write a name and pin a ribbon to honor someone affected by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Presented by the nonprofit Power of One Foundation (POOF), in collaboration with the Patriot’s Voice Foundation and the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, the 20th Anniversary Remembrance event drew locals who participated in activities and tributes designed to unite Americans across communities.

A circle of silence invited attendees to take a moment to be with their thoughts and memories, while another activity encouraged people to remember the lives lost on Sept. 11 with black ribbons.

“It’s to really honor those people who have those personal experiences and give them a space to be with their memories and emotions,” Shawnee Witt, POOF’s vice chair and operations director, said of the day. “This is an event specifically for this moment in time.”

The Costa Mesa commemoration also served as a launch for the “Re-United States of America Tour,” a live concert series whose goal is to convene top-level talent in each state in the nation with the purpose of bringing people together in times of continuing conflict.

An image of the World Trade Center South Tower collapsing is shown in a video presentation.
An image of the World Trade Center South Tower collapsing is shown in a video presentation.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

POOF Executive Director Andre Roberson said 20 years after 9/11, with the world struggling amid a global pandemic and with the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from a war-torn Afghanistan, it seemed timely to contemplate America, where it’s been and where it might still go if people come together.

“We all have been tested, and we need to have a reset,” he said Thursday. “And after the reset we have to move forward, but we have to move forward together — one heart, one body, one voice.”

Witt, who herself was not yet 11 years old and living in Montana when she saw the Twin Towers fall, recalled feeling the gravity of what had happened. She penned a child’s poem, parts of which she repurposed into a new poem that she recited on Saturday.

“We rallied together/ Built each other up/ Let each other know that we are enough,” she read.

“Let this be the lesson learned that day/ Twenty years ago/ And may we never fall astray/ Let that unity be here to stay.”

A young singer performs the national anthem.
A young singer performs the national anthem during a 20-year 9/11 remembrance event.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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