Flags blew at half-staff in a cold wind Sunday evening at Pier Plaza, while patriotic colors dominated the crowd and a pair of steel girders from the World Trade Center served as a graphic reminder of the events of a decade ago.
On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, members of the American Legion, Huntington Beach first responders, and more than 100 others gathered for a memorial ceremony to pay tribute to the people who died that day and the servicemen and women who have given their lives since in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The tone of the ceremony ranged from wistful to somber to hopeful. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) called America's current war on terror one in a series of battles against tyrannical regimes around the world, including Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
"We Americans represent to the evil forces on this planet a block to their domination and a block to their goals," he said.
Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach shared a memory of visiting New York in 2000 and viewing the city from the top of the twin towers — a vantage point so high, he said, that he and his family looked down at a blimp.
Police Sgt. Chris Tatar, who volunteered with other Huntington Beach officers in cleanup efforts at Ground Zero in 2001, offered a more sobering recollection.
When he and his colleagues flew to New York, Tatar said, the safety personnel there treated them like royalty, paying for their meals and even giving them tickets to a hockey game. That camaraderie, though, was mixed with the grimness of sorting through the rubble for 10 hours straight.
"It looked like a giant ant hill had been kicked by the filthy foot of Satan," Tatar said.
Huntington Beach Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh, the ceremony's keynote speaker, urged audience members to be "everyday heroes" and perform small acts of kindness — even cleaning the beach or including shy schoolmates — to keep community spirit strong.
Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn. President Kreg Muller also formally announced plans for the city's 9/11 memorial, which will incorporate the World Trade Center portions and reside outside City Hall.
The HB 9/11 Monument Design Committee has set Dec. 15 as a deadline for residents to submit designs, and Muller said the city hopes to dedicate the memorial Sept. 11 next year.