With candlelight, prayer, and experiences shared of a life-changing day in American history, Lodians remembered Sept. 11 at the Lodi Funeral Home for the Never Forget Tribute.
The chapel filled with community members on Sunday to honor the lives of the victims and heroes of that fateful day in 2001 when terrorists attacks struck the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
Lodi Fire Department led with the Pledge of Allegiance and St. Mary’s High School Senior Adelaide Hicks followed with a performance of the National Anthem. Chad Donley, chaplain of the American Legion Post 22 gave the invocation before 9/11 survivor, Corey Daniel, took to the podium to share some words about the day he escaped the South Tower of the World Trade Center that day.
Fifteen years ago, Daniel was working with a different investment firm and attending a two-week conference at the World Trade Center. He had arrived on Sept. 9 and was in the second day of the conference early that morning when a plane struck the North Tower. He and others were told to evacuate.
“It all happened in minutes and seconds,” Daniel said.
He heard a voice, he thought it might be the holy spirit guiding him, telling him that he had to get down, he said.
By 9:03 a.m. another plane hit floors 75 through 85 of the building he was in, while he was then 20 floors down and in a stairwell on the opposite side of the building.
“What was an orderly evacuation became chaotic,” he said.
Eventually, Daniel reached the basement level and was able to exit the building, feeling compelled to continue running away from the chaos — since the building had wobbled from the impact, he thought it might topple over.
Soon the building collapsed in on itself behind him. Of the people in and around the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that day, 2,977 people died. Many more died later from inhaling the fine dust of the collapsed buildings, which led to cancers, he said. Daniel was just outside the radius of dust when the tower came down.
“I’ll never, ever forget that day,” Daniel said. “I thank the Lord everyday for being alive.”
He also continues to thank those in public safety and in the military for their service, he said.
Retired U.S. Marshall Tony Amador, who is running for Congress, also spoke. He shared that he was in Washington D.C. on that day and remembers the plume of smoke that rose from the Pentagon in the distance. All the planes were grounded at that time. When he finally reached Sacramento, there was a great cheer from the passengers that the plane landed safely. He also echoed that it was very important never to forget.
Speakers and special guests then lit and carried candles to lead in a remembrance walk down Fairmont Avenue. Guests wrote the names of people they wished to remember on pieces of ribbon and then pinned those ribbons to a wreath, when they returned.
At that time, candles were distributed to everyone as Donley began a moment of silence for those who were lost.
Special performances included singing students from Beckman Elementary School with their rendition of “America the Beautiful” and another by the a capella choir from the Ham Lane Church of Christ.
Members of the audience reflected on their memory of 9/11 and what the remembrance event meant to them.
Ricardo Solis was attending to watch his daughter perform, but said it was nice that the community put this event together. He remembers that 9/11 happened so fast that it was something he will never forget.
“I’ll always be thinking about it when I’m going somewhere big, that something bad could happen. It’s a sad way to live but its reality,” Solis said.
Another in the audience, Karl Welsbacher believed the remembrance was an important event to keep this day in people’s minds.
“We should, as Americans, work to prevent this thing from happening ever again,” he said.
Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at firstname.lastname@example.org.