In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, speakers at the annual September 11 Memorial service at Firemen’s Memorial Plaza on Wednesday praised the unity among Long Beach residents and called on others to remember the first responders.
Follow Long Beach Patch
About 150 Long
Beach firefighters, residents and local officials gathered at the monuments on
the grassy median, at the 400 block of West Park Avenue, as night descended on
the twelfth anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorists attacks on the World Trade
Center, where nearly 3,000 people were murdered.
Among the speakers was Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who wanted the crowd, especially the youth, to take note of the 25,000 lives that were saved in the Twin Towers that day, thanks to the first responders.
"Tonight, we're going to remember them," said Weisenberg, a former Long Beach police officer and lifelong city resident.
“ … Look how lucky we are in this city,” he continued, “because we are one in this community, where everybody helps each other. This is a blessing that we have and we’re going to move forward.”
Cpt. Al Fuentes, a
long-time Long Beach resident, recalled that he was in charge of the FDNY
Marine Unit in New York Harbor on 9/11, when a terrorist flew the second plane
into the South Tower and filled a sunny, cloudless sky with thick, ominous
smoke. That day he ended up buried under the World Trade Center wreckage for
hours and suffered serious injuries and health problems that have kept him in
and out of hospitals. He remembered the many first responders and civilians who
helped save lives but were killed in the collapsed skyscrapers, all in less
than 102 minutes.
"But we're also here to remember us, as Americans, and how we responded as Americans to support each other, and how we supported each other through Sandy," Fuentes said of the Long Beach community.
Other speakers included Msgr. Donald Beckman, the Long Beach Fire Department chaplain; City Council President Scott Mandel; and ex-LBFD Chief Richard Corbett, who read the names of Long Beach men and women who were killed on 9/11, or who died from illnesses related their rescue efforts at Ground Zero.
LBFD Chief Antonio Cuevas led the ceremony, calling 9/11 “one of the darkest days in our history.”