On a cloudless morning Saturday, more than 100 people gathered in Memorial Park to pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago. Veterans, officers and firefighters joined the crowd in remembering the event, organized for the fourth consecutive year by the Young Republicans of La Cañada Flintridge.
"It's important to never forget that we are a peaceful, freedom-loving country and that our peacefulness and our loving nature was disturbed nine years ago by people who were misguided and who felt that their worship of God dictates that they should kill people who feel differently than they do," said Al Restivo, chairman of the La Cañada Republican Committee, which sponsors the youth group. "If we were to allow ourselves to forget this event, then we would be destined to have it repeated again. We really need to stay mindful of this for as long as it takes."
The ceremony began with a traditional posting of the colors by the Crescenta Valley High School Air Force Jr. ROTC, then the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem led by the La Cañada High School band.
The St. Bede Troop 507 Boy Scouts placed a wreath in front of the park gazebo.
"This is an opportunity for the Scouts to come out to the community and to be seen here," said Michael Divine, scoutmaster for Troop 507.
"We were asked to be here, and it's an honor to be here," added John Moe, assistant scoutmaster.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Niccum honored first responders who, he said, "rush in while others rush out."
Mayor Donald Voss was also in attendance, remarking on the unity and camaraderie demonstrated by Americans in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, showing that these are what he called, "the ideals of this nation that sustain us and keep us together in hard times."
Kevork Kurdoghlian, member and former president of the LCHS Young Republicans Club, organized the event with his peers, including current club president Alexander Keledjian.
"The turnout was amazing, we actually didn't have enough chairs," said Kurdoghlian. "And hopefully now that people will see what we've done, hopefully they'll come out next year as well."
Keynote speaker Sam Whitefield, a junior at LCHS, told the audience 9/11 should not be remembered solely by "speeches and erecting monuments, but by holding fast to the qualities that make America great: freedom, tolerance and human rights."