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Special Events Commemorate Solemn Anniversary Of 9/11
Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello explains the significance of a bell ceremony, tolling to indicate a firefighter has given the supreme sacrifice, as part of the 9/11 ceremony hosted at the firehouse on Friday, Sept. 9. Marg Jackson/The Times

Friday featured a pair of events, focusing on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This year was the 21st anniversary of that day that led to the War on Terror and ceremonies at the Escalon Fire Department along with a unique presentation by students at Escalon High School brought the 9/11 events and aftermath into focus.

Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello presided over the ceremony at the Coley Avenue fire station, as the department has hosted a remembrance each year during his 16-year tenure.

Opting for a Friday observance since the actual 9/11 fell on a Sunday and Saturday saw the Lions Club car cruise in town, it was a smaller than usual turnout, but did feature several guest speakers along with patriotic music.

San Joaquin County supervisor Tom Patti (District 3) and District 5 supervisor Robert Rickman, wo represents Escalon, were on hand and offered some remarks. Also taking the podium were Assemblyman Heath Flora and Pastor Arney Corbin. Mello told the crowd that it’s important to remember those who perished, not only in those initial terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon, but all those who have passed in the years since, either in war or from the effects of working at Ground Zero in the days following the attacks.

“We certainly appreciate you all coming out,” Mello said of those attending.

The event also featured a bell ceremony, the bell tolling to indicate the ‘end of shift’ for firefighters who gave the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.

Several Escalon firefighters and some representatives of the Escalon Police Department stood at attention for the ceremony. Also, a special flag was raised, then lowered to half staff to close out the proceedings.

At Escalon High School, members of the First Responders class set up a unique display in the Performing Arts Center, with several different groups of students coming in to tour it on Friday.

This is the second year the First Responders class has put on the display and they work in groups, each tasked with a specific part of 9/11 to highlight and present to the touring classes.

From Flight 93 – the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers fought back against the hijackers – to the impact of the planes striking the Twin Towers in New York City and the lingering health and emotional effects for first responders on scene at the attacks, those touring the display came away with a greater knowledge and understanding of the events that took place before they were born.

Senior Johanna Romero served as the student coordinator for the 9/11 program at the high school. She serves as vice president of the First Responders/EMT club and said she believes it is important to keep this annual remembrance going, especially since today’s students have only learned about the terrorist attacks in history books.

“It was such a large event in our history,” Romero explained. “It’s important to remember and honor the people that lost their lives as well as the first responders.”

She said each station had several presenters to discuss their assigned topic, and students touring the display spent three minutes at each station.

Senior Caleb Sandoval presented information on The Survivor Tree at the Twin Towers, a tree that was crushed when the towers fell and also burned, but had one single green leaf remaining.

“That tree is still standing today,” Sandoval said. “It symbolizes hope … we get burned and battered but we survive.”

Presenting information at the Survivor Tree display during the 9/11 commemoration at Escalon High School on Friday was senior Caleb Sandoval, at right, detailing how a tree survived at Ground Zero in New York City and remains standing to this day. Marg Jackson/The Times
A depiction of the crash of Flight 93, along with information about how the passengers on that flight fought back against the hijackers and ultimately gave their lives to keep the plane from striking its intended target, was one of the stations featured in the First Responders class presentation set up in the EHS Performing Arts Center on Friday. Marg Jackson/The Times