History & Profiles

Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

The 9/11 ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Building was somber as older first responders told of how the national mood has changed in 20 years.
Hollister firefighters and other first responders took part in the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at the Veterans Memorial Building. Photo by John Chadwell.
Hollister firefighters and other first responders took part in the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at the Veterans Memorial Building. Photo by John Chadwell.
The fire bell tolled for the more than 2,400 who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by John Chadwell.
The fire bell tolled for the more than 2,400 who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by John Chadwell.
Those who came to the anniversary took the time to shake hands with first responders at the conclusion of the ceremony. Photo by John Chadwell.
Those who came to the anniversary took the time to shake hands with first responders at the conclusion of the ceremony. Photo by John Chadwell.

It has now been 20 years since 19 terrorists killed 2,297 Americans and other nationals with four hijacked planes. If the size of the crowd at the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister on Sept. 11 was any indication, the “never forget” event may have been forgotten by some, or many residents were perhaps too busy to stop at 8 a.m. to remember what happened on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

For the 20 to 30 people who were there, though, it was a solemn memorial as veterans, scouts, active-duty military and first responders recalled where they were when the attacks occurred. Placards were held up indicating the times the planes struck the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and when the towers came down. The memorial concluded as the small crowd walked in a single line down the sidewalk along a line of first responders to personally shake their hands in gratitude.

Hollister’s interim Fire Chief Carlos Bedolla said 20 years after the attack the nation still lives with the scars. He recognized by the “ringing of the bell” the 343 firefighters, 71 police, EMTs and medics, and the souls aboard American Airline Flights 11 and 175, 77 and United Airlines 93, as well as the 11, marines, one sailor and one soldier killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, who he said were the most recent casualties in the war against terrorism.

“Some would say the attack was due to deep religious beliefs or past atrocities allegedly committed by this nation,” said Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso. “But it comes down to one thing: freedom. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights make this nation unique in the world. We have rights that citizens of other nations would love to have.”

He said Americans need to admit the pendulum has swung from 2001 when the nation was united on Sept. 12.

“Today, the media and some politicians have successfully polarized this nation,” he said. “We went from thinking every cop was a hero to some thinking every cop is a villain or murderer. What keeps us going is knowing there are still people who still believe in this nation and believe in freedom and liberty for all.”

San Benito County Sheriff Eric Taylor said he was in his first year of law enforcement when 9/11 happened. He commented that some of the deputies in the department today were only toddlers when the attack came and don’t understand the gravity of what older law enforcement personnel went through and remember. He said it was amazing to see members of the scouting community and other young people who cared enough to come out so early to honor the lives that were lost.

“I hope our deputies, police and first responders realize we live in a special community where we have support and connections,” he said. “After 9/11 you saw the military become police abroad and our police start to become military at home. And if you didn’t know, just a couple mornings ago a Gilroy police officer was ambushed as she arrived at a call for service. Sometimes it does hit close to home, so we need to keep our relationships that we have with each other. We just don’t know when it’s going to come here.”

 

 

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]