On Thursday - two years to the minute when the second plane hit the World Trade Center - area residents remembered the 9/11 attacks by gazing upon a new flag being raised by the local Boy Scouts.
For one audience member, the special event held just a little extra meaning. Corey Daniel of Lodi escaped the South Tower minutes before it collapsed.
Thursday morning's service at the All-Veterans Plaza in Lodi was just one among many held locally from sunrise to sunset.
From Galt to Stockton, citizens took time out to remember the more than 3,013 people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, in attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a plane crash in Pennsylvania.
In Lodi, even before the sun was up, some 25 residents and the Boy Scout Troop No. 199 gathered for a 6:03 a.m. flag-raising ceremony. It coincided with the time here the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
The only noise to be heard on the plaza was the soft ripple of the nearby waterfall cascading into an aptly named reflecting pool.
The only light was the illuminated light post globes surrounding the plaza.
Four young men hoisted a new American flag donated by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, as fellow boy scouts and police officers saluted. It was then lowered to half-staff - a sign of mourning.
The silence was broken by Scoutmaster Ken Moffitt who reminded those in attendance, "Let's not forget what happened on Sept. 11."
Although humble when it comes to talking about that fearful day, he admits he feels blessed to be alive.
|Lodi's Corey Daniel, left, his wife, Kim, and
daughter, Paige, 2, enjoy a barbecue Thursday at the All Veterans
Plaza on the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Corey
Daniel escaped from the South Tower of the World Trade Center
before it collapsed. (Jerry
"There must be a reason I'm still here," he said Thursday.
The local man who started his day at the sunrise service planned to go into work for awhile then to church in the afternoon. He sent his 6-year-old daughter to school with newspaper clippings on his experience. Daniel has three daughters, one born since the 9/11 attacks.
In the final phase of work-related training for the investment firm of Morgan Stanley on Sept. 11, 2001, Daniel had taken a restroom break on the 61st floor of the South Tower unaware that a hijacked airliner had already smashed into the building's adjacent twin tower only minutes before. It was when he emerged, he saw a panicked crowd dashing for the emergency exits heeding to an announcement that the building was being evacuated.
Since the elevators were out of service, he bolted for the stairway and dashed down 61 flights of stairs. He kept running until he found an available pay phone he could use to call his wife, Kimberlie, then six months pregnant.
Daniel, wearing a patriotic tie on Thursday, said the ceremony shouldn't mean more to him than others in the crowd.
"We're all Americans. I just had a different viewpoint," he said.
Both Vice Mayor Emily Howard and Councilman John Beckman, who attended Tuesday's ceremony, felt it was an appropriate memorial.
"It was a very meaningful gesture by the Boy Scouts getting up early and doing what they did," Howard said.
"Anytime we have a chance to get together for a meaningful time, it's powerful."
Moffitt hopes the event becomes an annual one. A Stockton police officer for 30 years, he saw two fellow officers die in the line of duty.
"Until you experience what the people in the New York Fire Department and the New York Police Department did, you don't really understand," he said.
Local firefighters, too, took an opportunity to reflect on Thursday.
In a break from a weapons of mass destruction training session, they agreed it didn't seem like it had been two years since the 9/11 attacks.
"It's not like you only talk about it on the anniversary," Battalion Chief George Juelch said. "We talk about it regularly."
Engineer Rick Gerlack said a lot has changed in the fire service. Currently, local firefighters are training to use a self-administered shot if they come in contact with chemical weapons.
On Thursday morning, an anonymous woman dropped off a batch of "thank you" cookies.
At noon, flags flying at half-staff at Fire Stations No. 3 and No. 4 were returned to full staff.
Time to come together
A community get-together and barbecue was held Thursday evening at the Lodi veterans plaza, and free hot dogs, chips and soda were provided to the first 500 guests.
And, some area churches opened their doors for prayer. A handful showed up to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lodi.
"I prayed and honored the dead, but I prayed more for the living and those who grieve," said Bob Bartholomew, a deacon at St. Paul. "Then I pulled out the Bible to Psalm 107."
Bartholomew related how the passage in Solomon tells what God has done for people who were in trouble.
Galt dedicates memorial
In Galt, some 35 people, plus several representatives from the Galt fire and police departments, turned out for the dedication of the new 9/11 memorial constructed by the Galt Sunrise Rotary Club.
new bench marks the site of the 9/11 memorial constructed by the
Galt Sunrise Rotary Club. The bench is part of an area in the Galt
Cemetery dedicated to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks. (J. Paul
The memorial consists of a very short, young tree and a bench that reads, "In memory of those who served and those who died. Prayers for Peace, September 11, 2001."
Three Galt pastors - Mary Sanders of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Craig Dale of Galt United Methodist Church and Tim Stevenson of Horizon Community Church - offered prayers during the dedication.
Stevenson, who volunteers as a Galt police chaplain, was decked out in a police uniform.
Galt Mayor Darryl Clare, acting in the roles of the city's mayor and chairman of the memorial committee, credited several people who volunteered their services, including Herb Houston, who hauled materials in his truck, developer Mike Guttridge for donated building materials and Steve Van Lone.
Clare also acknowledged 18-year Galt resident John Moran, who performed the electrical work during the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970 and 1971. He worked 26 years for Con Edison in New York before moving to Galt.
"It's like seeing your kid get shot," Moran said, describing the World Trade Center's destruction.
Moran said he knew at least three people who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"One of the gentleman who passed away was my (old) boss, Dick Morgan," Moran said.
The others who died included a firefighter who was Moran's driver for Con Edison along with a police officer for the Port Authority of New York who served with Moran in the National Guard in New Jersey.
Several members of the Galt Veterans of Foreign Wars, who are helping construct a separate veterans memorial adjacent to the 9/11 memorial.
"It was very, very nice," VFW member Richard Hult said of Thursday's Rotary dedication. "It's nice to have them as partners."
An interfaith prayer and moment of silence was held Thursday morning at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. And, later in the evening, the school's international studies hosted a panel discussion in George Wilson Hall examining American foreign policy since the 9/11 tragedy.
News-Sentinel staff writer Ross Farrow contributed to this report.
This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. Sept. 12, 2003, to correct the reference to the Bible passage to which Bob Bartholomew referred.