Remembering, honoring response to 9/11 attacks

(Daniela Gomez, an eighth-grader at Moreland Notre Dame School, presents a sunflower to Watsonville firefighter/paramedic Martin Muhoberac Tuesday during a school-wide recognition of emergency responders on the 17th anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2001. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — In honor of those that died or were injured in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, students at Moreland Notre Dame School presented fresh sunflowers to a cast of Watsonville firefighters and police officers at an annual early morning ceremony Tuesday.

Several students took turns at a microphone to share words of praise and esteem for emergency responders.

“This is a great community and we see it as a family of families,” said Principal Cathy Mottau. “We hope these sunflowers bring a bit of sunshine to our emergency responders.”

Watsonville Fire Capt. Matt McCollum said he was touched by the school’s gesture, which he and fellow firefighters have attended for years.

“It’s just nice to see the school coming together for this important event,” he said. “It means a lot to the firefighting and police community; we are all very honored and warmed by this event.”

Sixth-grader Iker Ponce said, “This is our way of thanking all our firefighters and police. It’s a way to remember all the people that died on September 11th.”

Sixth-grader Fatima Carmona said she was glad to be a part of the ceremony.

“It feels nice to be out here and to honor these people that save lives every day,” she said. “It’s very important to let people know that others do care.”

Sixth-grader Van Ridgway was part of the ceremony.

“This means a lot to me, to be out here to realize that this happened a long time ago but that people don’t forget,” Van said. “A lot of people sacrificed their lives to save others, firefighters and police. It’s an important time to remember.”


Moreland Notre Dame students are delighted to be able to greet Watsonville Police K9 Axel under the control of officer Javier Ayala. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

The Sept. 11 attacks were a series of four terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda in 2001. Using hijacked commercial airliners, the attackers killed 2,996 people, injured more than 6,000, and caused about $10 billion in damage, according to the Associated Press. The death toll continued to climb from respiratory diseases and other complications.

Hijackers managed to slam two passenger jets into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, garnering worldwide attention and outrage on Sept. 11. A short time after the World Trade Center attacks, a third jet crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Va. A short time later a fourth jet, bound for Washington D.C., was ultimately interrupted by suspecting passengers and ended up crashing into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pa.

The Sept.11 attacks marked the single deadliest incident for firefighters and police in the history of the United States, with 343 firefighters and 72 police officers killed.

Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz Tuesday, students at Holy Cross School baked a load of homemade cookies for emergency workers and folded origami paper cranes for good luck to be passed around as part of the school’s annual recognition.


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